HarperCollins, 2002, 24.95, 288 pp.
Sara Rosario Gonzales works as a rare-book restorer at Los Angeles' Getty Museum. Her current assignment is to mend a sixteenth century manuscript, the story of “Helen” an Aztec woman Cortez sent as a present to the Pope.
Upset in her personal life as her marine boyfriend is going to marry someone else because she failed to commit, Sara buries her unhappiness inside the restoration project. She soon believes that the story of the Aztec female is authentic, but everyone else insists its fiction. She begins researching clues to this Helen, her baptized name the Aztec received in Rome. For the first time in her shallow life, Sara commits to something with her heart as she seeks the truth whether Helen the Aztec really existed and had these wonderful adventures in Europe.
The contrast between Helen and Sara is startling as the former lives life to the fullest and the latter avoids life to the least degree yet both share in common a feeling of displacement. Obviously Helen's is easier to observe, but Sara's Latino heritage makes her feel out of sorts also. Sara's search for the truth links the two subplots neatly together. Though at times the tale slows down, fans obtain an intriguing character study that compares how two people living centuries apart share the same feelings of not belonging.
This report prepared by Harriet Klausner