In the mid-1800s, Fela, taken from Africa, is working at her second sugar plantation in colonial Puerto Rico, where her mistress is only too happy to benefit from her impressive embroidery skills. But Fela has a secret. Before she and her husband were separated and sold into slavery, they performed a tribal ceremony in which they poured the essence of their unborn child into a very special stone. Fela keeps the stone with her, waiting for the chance to finish what she started. When the plantation owner approaches her, Fela sees a better opportunity for her child, and allows the man to act out his desire. Such is the beginning of a line of daughters connected by their intense love for one another, and the stories of a lost land.
Mati, a powerful healer and noted craftswoman, is grounded in a life that is disappearing in a quickly changing world. Concha, unsure of her place, doesn’t realize the price she will pay for rejecting her past. Elena, modern and educated, tries to navigate between two cultures, moving to the United States, where she will struggle to keep her family together. Carisa turns to the past for wisdom and strength when her life in New York falls apart.The stone becomes meaningful to each of the women, pulling them through times of crisis and ultimately connecting them to one another. Dahlma Llanos-Figueroa shows great skill and warmth in the telling of this heartbreaking, inspirational story about mothers and daughters, and the ways in which they hurt and save one another.
Dahlma Llanos-Figueroa was born in Puerto Rico and raised in New York City. She taught in the New York City school system before becoming a young-adult librarian. Dahlma has won the Bronx Council on the Arts ACE and BRIO awards, as well as a Literary Arts Fellowship. She lives in the Bronx.
A gray braid falling over each shoulder, Tía Josefa stuck her head out of the window of Las Agujas, the embroiderers’ cabin located just behind the main plantation house. The wagon returning from town swung around the main house and came to a final halt in the batey of Hacienda Las Mercedes, a sugar plantation near the northern coast of Puerto Rico.
She recognized Romero, the mulatto mayoral, sitting high next to the driver.