A Woman of Endurance
Author, Dahlma Llanos-
Review by Julie Carpenter
A Woman of Endurance tells the story of Keera, renamed Pola by her captors; it's a complex and heartbreaking tale, the history of a woman whose life pushes the limits of human endurance.
Young Keera has a special gift, given to her by goddess Yemayá, a deep sense of touch that allows her special knowledge - she knows and feels more deeply than other people, but when she is stolen from her homeland she begins to lose both her faith in the goddess and in herself. When she arrives in Puerto Rico she finds herself assigned to the cruelest of fates, she must work the cane fields and be used as a breeder for babies she herself will never mother.
Just as this treatment makes life too cruel to bear, she finds herself sold to another plantation, still enslaved but in a place where children are allowed to remain with their families, a place where her fellow enslaved people are treated with just enough autonomy to form a community that offers hope and humanity – and even the possibility of love.
Pola finds herself recovering under the care of the curandera of the plantation, and then she is assigned to the workshop that produces fine needlework and dresses. Her new life has given her a second chance. But Pola has lost everything, her family, her children, her faith and even her name. Can she find her way back to life and desire in a place where cruelty may be a step removed, but still lurks and strikes? As she begins to reach out to recover herself will the next tragedy be too much?
The book pulls the reader in from the first page through the terror and cruelty of plantation life, connects with the love and humanity of the enslaved community, and shows the reader the beauty and harshness of life in Puerto Rico. The characters that inhabit this story are unforgettable, each in their own way.
Pola’s story is a story that deserves this rich and nuanced telling, the story of love and endurance in the face of the worst that humanity can offer. This is highly recommended reading. I know some of our readers are librarians and I would recommend this as an addition to any public library.
A Woman of Endurance is a companion to a book we previously reviewed, Daughters of the Stone. (You can read that here). Both these books have our highest recommendation and we urge you to read both this book and Daughters of the Stone if you haven’t already.
Download Author Bio & Photo
Dahlma Llanos-Figueroa was born in Puerto Rico and raised in New York City. She is a product of the Puerto Rican communities on the island and in the South Bronx. She attended the New York City public school system and received her academic degrees from the State University of New York at Buffalo and Queens College–City University of New York. As a child she was sent to live with her grandparents in Puerto Rico where she was introduced to the culture of rural Puerto Rico, including the storytelling that came naturally to the women in her family, especially the older women. Much of her work is based on her experiences during this time. Dahlma taught creative writing and language and literature in the New York City public school system before becoming a young-adult librarian. She has also taught creative writing to teenagers, adults, and senior citizens throughout New York while honing her own skills as a fiction writer and memoirist.
You can follow Dahlma at https://www.dahlmallanosfigueroa.com