Consuelo, or Connie, Ramos is the protagonist of Marge Piercy’s novel. A Mexican American woman in her mid-thirties, she has fled an abusive relationship and moved to another city. While trying to rebuild her life, she learns that her niece, Dolly, a beautiful woman in her twenties, is making her living as a prostitute and using illegal drugs. The person responsible for keeping her in this life is her pimp, Geraldo, a violent man who uses physical force as a method of control. One day, after he has beaten the pregnant Dolly, she seeks refuge at Connie’s apartment. Geraldo quickly finds her there. When Geraldo—who is the baby’s father—threatens Dolly, Connie intervenes by smashing him in the face with a wine jug.
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She hated Geraldo and it was right for her to hate him. Attacking him was different from turning her anger, her sorrow, her loss into . . . self-hatred, into speed and downers, into booze, into wine, into seeing herself in Angelina and abusing that self born again into the dirty world.
Geraldo takes legal action, which results in her being committed to a mental hospital. The focus there is not on recovery; in a fog from overmedication, she feels imprisoned and warehoused. Visits she had received from a person who lives in the future become more frequent while she is locked away. She reconnects with a young man from her visions, Luciente, who has told her that he is a “sender” of messages, while she is a highly receptive “catcher.”
The reader gradually learns that Connie had problems earlier which led to her being enmeshed in the social welfare system, including having her own daughter, Angelina, removed from her care. Her attention to Dolly stems in part from her guilt over considering herself an inadequate mother. As her sessions with Luciente grow stronger, she finds herself in a future time, the year 2137, and in a different community in Massachusetts. As she gets to know Mattapoiset, Connie learns that babies do not grow up in nuclear families but that…
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