Ocotillo Dreams


2012 PEN Oakland-Josephine Miles Award for Excellence in Literature

2012 ILBA Mariposa Award, Best First Book

Set in Chandler, Arizona, during the city’s infamous 1997 migrant sweeps, Ocotillo Dreams is no run-of-the-mill border tale. In her captivating first novel, Melinda Palacio skillfully weaves a story of politics, intrigue, love, and trust. Isola, a young woman who inherits her mother’s Chandler home, relocates from California only to find that her mother had lived a secret life of helping undocumented immigrants. Isola must confront her own confusion and sense of loyalty in a strange and hostile environment. As she gets to know her mother from clues left behind, she grapples with questions of identity and belonging that eventually lead her to explore her life's meaning and to reconnect with her roots.

“A must read for those who seek the heart’s truth on both sides of the border.” —Stella Pope Duarte, author of If I Die in Juárez and Fragile Night

Ocotillo Dreams is an evocative and powerful statement about human life and the conditions of immigrants in the United States.” —Denise Chávez, novelist and director of the Border Book Festival

"Melinda Palacio is a fresh voice in fiction. Readers who love a good story as well as graceful, articulate style will not be disappointed in Ocotillo Dreams." —Leonard Tourney, author of Time's Fool

"A beautiful and powerful novel. . . . Palacio's words tie us to the earth with a thin, invisible, fragile, and needed thread—and I am grateful . . ." —Fred Arroyo, author of The Region of Lost Names

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Melinda Palacio
Author Bio: 

Melinda Palacio grew up in South Central Los Angeles and now lives in Santa Barbara and New Orleans. She holds an M.A. in comparative literature from the University of California, Santa Cruz. A 2007 PEN Center USA Emerging Voices Fellow and a 2009 poetry alumna of the Squaw Valley Community of Writers, she co-edits Ink Byte Magazine and writes a column for the online journal La Bloga. Her work has appeared in the Squaw Valley Review, Black Renaissance/Renaissance Noire, Buffalo Carp, Latinos in Lotusland: An Anthology of Contemporary Southern California Literature, Maple Leaf Rag III and IV: An Anthology of Poems, among many other publications. Melinda's poetry chapbook, Folsom Lockdown, won the 2009 Kulupi Press Sense of Place award. The author recently completed a full-length poetry manuscript, How Fire Is a Story, Waiting.

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