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The Reddening Path

by Amanda Hale

The tale of Malinche, the mistress of Cortés, Spanish conquerer of Latin America, is a controversial one. Reviled by some as a traitor to her Mayan culture and lauded by others as the founding mother of Mexico, her story reflects the complexities of post-colonial Latin American culture. In The Reddening Path, Amanda Hale parallels
the story of Malinche’s life with that of a modern-day heroine, Pamela.

Wrenched from her birth mother during a time of political turmoil in Guatemala, Pamela was adopted and raised by a Canadian lesbian couple unaware of her background. Upon reaching adulthood, Pamela, now enrolled in university, begins to study Latin American history – and thus her own – and becomes curious as to her biological roots. This curiosity leads her on a quest to meet her birth mother and reconnect with a country and culture about which she knows very little, but which pulls at her soul.

While the results of Pamela’s quest are not what she expects, and the painful exposure of secrets and old wounds is almost overwhelming, she ultimately learns how to straddle two worlds and cultures and survive.

The Reddening Path is cleverly structured, with a style that fluctuates between dreamlike poetic imagery and a traditional quest-for-identity narrative. While the complexity of the multiple stories can be confusing, and the momentum of the story takes much too long to develop, Hale’s novel is an intriguing look at post-colonial biculturalism set against a moving backdrop of familial love and personal enlightenment.