Sunday, April 3, 2011

The Realm of Hungry Spirits

Lorraine Lopez
Grand Central Publishing
Harper Collins
May 2, 2011
Trade Paperback
ISBN: 978-0-446-54963-9
352 pages

Is your life sometimes overwhelming? How would you handle visitors who have way overstayed their
welcome? All of us feel the guilt of taking in a family member when they are down, but how long is too

Marina Lucero is attempting to find her inner spiritual peace with herself and the world. Having
recently been dumped by her long-term boyfriend, her everyday life is still near chaotic. She has
worked for years to get herself through college and is finally in the profession of teaching, even if it is
summer school and teaching English to Hispanic students who probably don’t want to be there. She
has also allowed her sister’s boyfriend to stay at her house with his friend. They really have no place to
go and currently have no jobs. However, seeing the two take over her living room can be odorous and
not the most welcoming room. Occasionally, even the neighbor stays in Marina’s guest bedroom,
especially when her husband is drunk and abusive. In fact, Marina’s house seems to be a sanctuary for
those in need.

Added to this are the family problems of everyday life, especially her relationship with her sisters. Her
little sister helps herself to Marina’s wardrobe and jewelry. Of course, she also makes
comments about the dress being too large and that Marina needs to lose weight so that her sister can
easier use her wardrobe.

This is a story about doing the right thing and keeping your sense of humor with the challenges of life.
Marina’s lives in the San Fernando Valley. She is studying writings by the Dalai Lama and is
considering becoming a Buddhist. Being that her mother joined the Carmelite nuns, this is a major
change for Marina and her family.

The Realm of Hungry Spirits is a delightful and memorable page-turner. The characters are
believable and resemble members of our own personal families. Some Spanish phrases are used throughout the story, however, they are not cumbersome for those of who are non-Spanish speakers. This is a lovable and enjoyable story for any woman who feels overwhelmed at times or for those moments when you wonder if the entire world has gone insane.

Lorraine Lopez works as a professor at Vanderbilt University. She was a PEN Faulkner Finalist for her previous novel, The Gifted Gabaldon Sisters.

The Realm of Hungry Spirits is definitely going to make my list for the best books of 2011. Marina’s
life makes wonderful ,picturesque, and memorable events which make all of us laugh.