by Terri Schlichenmeyer
Your first introduction to hiding was a game called Peek-a-Boo. Then there was Hide-and-Seek, and after that, you learned to hide milk money from playground bullies and your diary from your mother. Through the years, you covered up your ignorance of school lessons (don’t want to seem too smart), your lack of dates on Saturday night (don’t want to seem too unpopular), and your growing body (don’t want to seem too appealing).
But that’s small stuff. Hiding can be a life-saving necessity. It can be life-or-death. It can be a means of revenge, as you’ll see in the new novel Forgetting the Alamo, or, Blood Memory by Emma Perez (University of Texas Press, utexas.edu/utpress).
From the time that she was a very small girl, Michaela Campos knew that she was more like her father than she was like her mother. Because of that, Michaela went everywhere with Agustin—even to Miss Elsie’s, where little girls weren’t supposed to see what big people were doing.
So it was no surprise that, in the days after the battle at the Alamo, Michaela was with her father when he found Tio Lorenzo, his brother. In anguish, he buried Lorenzo, and in anguish, he rode off for revenge and battle, leaving Michaela to watch over the ranch, along with her mami and her twin siblings, Rusty and Ifigenia.
Michaela couldn’t let her papi fight without her, so she went after him, but she was too late. Carnage met her at the battle site, and she found her papi dead. Grief-stricken, she returned to the ranch, where she found the twins murdered and Mami raped.
So Michaela ran.
Wrapping her body tightly and wearing her papi’s buckskin coat, carrying his rifle and the knife that killed him, she ran, hiding her femaleness and looking for the men who started it all: a man named Rove, a colonel who was no colonel, and her cousin, Jedidiah Jones, who somehow always managed to make Michaela smaller.
She aimed to find them and kill them.
She never aimed to fall in love.
Clara was beautiful, with hair to her waist and a bright smile. Michaela loved her, but couldn’t tell her so. Instead, she watched the woman she loved fall for one of the men Michaela chased.
Filled with lush beauty, harshness, and horrifying brutality, Forgetting the Alamo is one of those books in which you just know what’s going to happen at the end.
And you’d be wrong.
Author Emma Perez says in her acknowledgements that she traveled through her settings, letting her imagination go while she did her research. That shows in this story of a young woman who is forced to come of age as the new state of Texas is born and settled.
Be aware that although this novel is as chaste as any western, it might not be the kind of material Grandpa would read . . . and that’s too bad. I loved this oater, and when you read Forgetting the Alamo, you’ll have a hard time hiding your appreciation, too.
Terri Schlichenmeyer has been reading since she was three years old, and she never goes anywhere without a book. She lives on a hill in Wisconsin with two dogs and 11,000 books.