Title: The Journal of Antonio Montoya
Author: Rick Collignon
Publisher: Unbridled Books
Publication Date: Reprint edition August 25, 2009
When little José Montoya’s parents are killed one August morning by a cow, his Tia Ramona and his Tio Flavio are troubled by how best to raise the boy. After the funeral, they drive to their childhood home behind the village office, but “before they reach the house, the front door swung open and Ramona’s grandfather, Epolito Montoya, who had been dead for thirteen years, stood in the doorway. ‘Why are you out in the rain?’ he said.”
Ramona has returned reluctantly to this isolated village in northern New Mexico and to the family that never lets go. As she tries to build a modern life here on her own terms, and still to care for young José, she discovers that she can reach through time, see the richness of her heritage, and reclaim riches, knowledge, art that disappeared generations ago. In fact, she can speak with her ancestors and learn their stories.
These, finally, are the fortunes she will try to pass on to José.
An astonishingly brilliant debut novel, The Journal of Antonio Montoya by Rick Collignon portrays the importance of family life and one’s roots. After the death of Jose and Loretta Montoya, Ramona finds herself taking in her nephew Jose Jr., something she never envisioned she would be doing, especially since she did not think she would ever return to her hometown of Guadalupe, New Mexico. Caring for a child is not the only change in Ramona’s life, she moved into her grandparents home and they too live there, even though they are deceased. Collignon takes an interesting route to show a family what is good and important. This is not a novel about hauntings, rather about life lessons which also come to Romano through a diary Jose Jr. found from 1924, which speaks of the town and the inhabitants of the town, their joys and struggles. The Journal of Antonio Montoya is an extraordinary novel, descriptively rich, splendidly narrated and filled with delightful characters. Collignon’s debut novel is a vivid novel of family, life and learning from the past. I strongly recommend The Journal of Antonio Montoya to any and all readers and want to point out this novel is the first in a series that occur in the charming town of Guadalupe.
Rick Collignon is the author of three additional novels: Perdido, A Santo in the Image of Cristóbal García, and Madewell Brown. Originally from the Chicago area, he has lived in northern New Mexico for more than 30 years.
I received a complimentary copy of The Journal of Antonio Montoya by Rick Collignon from Unbridled Books. Receiving a free copy in no way reflected my review of the aforementioned novels.