The Ghost of Milagro Creek: Book summary and reviews of The Ghost of Milagro Creek by Melanie Sumner

The Ghost of Milagro Creek

By Melanie Sumner

The Ghost of Milagro Creek
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  • Published in USA  Jul 2010,
    272 pages.

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Book Summary

The story of Ignacia Vigil Romero, a full Jacarilla Apache, and the two boys, Mister and Tomás, she raised to adulthood unfolds in a barrio of Taos, New Mexico—a mixed community of Native Americans, Hispanics, and whites. Now deceased, Ignacia, a curandera—a medicine woman, though some say a witch—begins this tale of star-crossed lovers.

Mister and Tomás, best friends until their late teens, both fall for Rocky, a gringa of some mystery, a girl Tomás takes for himself. But in a moment of despair, a pledge between the young men leads to murder. When Ignacia falls silent, police reports, witness statements, and caseworker interviews draw an electrifying portrait of a troubled community and of the vulnerable players in this mounting tragedy. Set in a terrain that becomes a character in its own right, The Ghost of Milagro Creek brilliantly illuminates this hidden corner of American society. 

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Reviews

Media Reviews

"Well written, with intriguing characters, the novel illuminates a part of American society not often described in fiction." - Booklist

"Sumner’s prose hums with ancestral myths to craft a tale less about Mister and more about the wrecked history of his entire community." - Oxford American, The Southern Magazine of Good Writing

"I found this novel worth my time, and so feel it will be worth yours, especially if you have an interest in New Mexico, in American Indian cosmology, in narrative structure and approaches, in good storytelling." - The Rumpus

"The multifaceted narrative moves forward and backward in time until a picture emerges - one strand at a time, much like the basket-weaving Ignacia's tribe is known for..." - Atlanta-Journal Constitution

"An ambitiously complicated broth of content with surprisingly little flavor." - Kirkus Reviews

"Readers will be fascinated by Sumner's Taos, but may find the central drama between Mister and Rocky unsatisfying." - Publishers Weekly

"A 'ghost' story woven with teen love and tragedy ... Distinguished by its setting in the historically rich and evocative landscape of Taos, N.M. [Sumner] draws upon the area's natural beauty, and its Hispanic, Pueblo, Apache and Anglo roots, as the backdrop to an intricately woven tale of a community at risk." - Jane Ciabattari, NPR.org

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Reader Reviews

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Rated 3 of 5 of 5 by Andrea L. (Cottonwood Heights, UT)
Spiritually rich, thought provoking
This book is rich in symbolism and spirituality, and the author has pulled from universal themes, as well as Native American cosmology. The overriding message of this book is death, but not simply the negative connotation that society has given to the concept of death. The author presents death as part of a duality, as being an opportunity as well as a setback. In this sense, death can be a release from the physical realm, a chance for spiritual rebirth, an opportunity to begin a new life. The characters are engaging and well developed, my favorite being Abuela. In Abuela, the author has found a true voice through which to speak to the reader. Overall it is an enjoyable read, with plenty of material for the reader to think through between chapters.

Rated 4 of 5 of 5 by Gary R. (bolingbrook, IL)
The Wind Talked
It would be easy enough to say this is a book about two friends,one girl,one grandmother,one tragedy and a host of other characters but that's not all this book is about.the landscape of the Santa Fe and Taos area of New Mexico permeates this book! The culture of the area also plays a big part. I found this book to be a very good read, but it helps if you know a little bit of Spanish the stories within the story were a very nice touch. A very good writer who knows the area she writes about and who writes from the heart, read it!

Rated 3 of 5 of 5 by Judy G. (Carmel, IN)
Disappointed in the Ghost
Not a page-turner for me. To enjoy you must read in 1-2 sittings which was impossible for me. Book jumped around so much I never became truly engaged. However, I found some incredibly beautiful sections--when Rocky, Mister & Tomas visited the symphony, Mister's questions of Chief as a boy, etc. I am very impressed with this author's ability & potential; but am disappointed in the structure and construction.

Rated 5 of 5 of 5 by Carole C. (Upper Marlboro, MD)
Ghosts and Rocks can Speak
Murder, miracles and mysticism are as prevalent in Melanie Sumner's "The Ghost of Milagro Creek" as complex characters, consuming love, and a landscape so compelling that it becomes a character. Although the author tells the story through the many voices of her characters, witness statements, police reports, interviews, letters, and petroglyphs, the voice that speaks most eloquently to this reader is that of Abuela Ignacia, a deceased woman who, like other characters, defies simple definition. "Whatever I was: Spanish or Indian, nurse or nutcase, dead or alive -- I would be remember." And, she will.

Non-linear in its structure and haunting in its release of detail, this book would be an excellent choice for book clubs and for anyone who loves flawed but compassionate characters, subtle symbolism and hidden meanings, and a tale whose open-ended conclusion challenges the imagination of the reader.

Rated 4 of 5 of 5 by Terrie J. (Eagan, MN)
Very Impactful Story
At first this story appears to be a simple story about friends/brothers growing up in New Mexico. The story quickly becomes complicated and heart breaking. It takes some unexpected twists that keep you wondering what could happen next.

The story is told from different characters, mixed with narrative in Spanish. This makes is sometimes hard to follow or perhaps, it adds to the charm of the book.

This would be an excellent book group read - as an added bonus, reading group questions are included at the end of the book!

Rated 3 of 5 of 5 by Robin W. (Marinette, WI)
I just don't get it.....
I have a tough time understanding a story with mystical and spiritual elements. The story jumped between time frames and was difficult for me to understand. However, I did want to keep reading - I found the characters and the locations compelling.

...15 more reader reviews

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Author Information

Melanie Sumner Author Biography

Photo: Uli Gratzl

Melanie Sumner is the author of The School of Beauty and Charm, a novel, and Polite Society, stories. A graduate of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, she earned her MFA from Boston University and was the recipient of a Whiting award in fiction in 1995. She currently lives in Rome, Georgia, and teaches creative writing at Kennesaw State University.

Link to Melanie Sumner's Website

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