About the Book: Hidden Star
Imagine awakening to a new reality of who you are, revealing a hidden past that has shaped your family’s history for centuries. Fact, not fiction, this experience has been shared by thousands of descendants of Sephardic Jews who fled Spain and Portugal in the 15th and 16th centuries, seeking safe haven from the ruthless Spanish Inquisition. Many had already converted to Catholicism, but learned that conversion was not enough to save their lives. They established new communities throughout the world, living as Catholics on the outside, but guarding a precious Jewish heritage in secret, an observance reduced over time to mere ritual and custom.
Meet a modern day member of New Mexico’s northern Hispanic settlements who finds a new truth about herself and her family in the unexpected tumult of her life. The disappearance of her two children leads her on an inner journey and an outer one, into the past and toward a newly imagined future where she can finally choose how she wants to live and who she wants to be. Hidden Star was inspired by the emergence of Spanish Catholics and Protestants in Mexico, Texas and the American Southwest, who believe they have Jewish roots. Today, many have thoughts of return, or have already begun the process. A work of fiction, this book was inspired by interviews with actual descendants, plus events that shaped this culture’s history, and suggests that in an era of religious freedom, we’re more alike than different – whatever our heritage, we want a better world.
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"The novel meets its goal of defining crypto-Jewish history and heritage... Multiple narratives spin together with appealing elements of a spiritual journey and a historical quest."
--ForeWord Clarion Review
"I have not only enjoyed reading Corinne Joy Brown's new novel Hidden Star, but I have learned so much about the lives, traditions, and history of the "hidden" Jews of New Mexico, that I intend to tell everyone I know, as well as my students at UTEP to add this important book to their personal libraries. The author truly engages the reader with vivid descriptions of the personalities, ideas and journeys of each of the book's characters. I am deeply impressed with the story, the way the author tells the story, and the inspiration it gives the reader to deal with the some of the challenges that life presents us every day."
—Rabbi Stephen A. Leon, Founder and Director of the Anusim Center of El Paso, Texas
"Hidden Star is an engaging, fast-moving book, set in a well-realized southwestern landscape. The book raises important questions about how history and identity intertwine, even as the novel itself weaves together the oft-knotted threads of family, religion, and romance. An enjoyable read!"
—Dr. Gretchen Starr-LeBeau
Associate Professor Principia College, Author of In the Shadow of the Virgin: Inquisitors, Friars, and Conversos in Guadalupe, Spain, Princeton University Press
"An intriguing, heartwarming tale of family and faith. Brown weaves a vivid, accessible story here that jumps between the present and the past to illuminate the tale of Rachel’s Jewish ancestors. The characters are fully drawn and engaging as they grapple with both abstract questions of
faith and urgent matters of life and death."
"As you read the pages between the covers, be prepared to enter into a journey that takes you into a past that most of us do not fully understand. As I live in the present, celebrating my faith and culture, I acknowledge a history that is hidden and not fully comprehended but felt and embraced with wonder, sorrow, happiness, and inquiry. It becomes an enigma to try to explain that what occurred in 1492 could resonate with a reality of life in the year 2015. Yet, the energy reverberations ring true through the passage of time, space and energy. Enjoy your time reading this story, as the past is the present and strives to become the future."
—Lorenzo A. Trujillo, Member of the National Panel Roster of Neutrals American Arbitration Association
"Hidden Star is an ambitious, complex novel, spanning from the 17th Century to modern day, yet easy to read and difficult to put down. Corinne Joy Brown's thoughtful look at the Crypto-Jews of New Mexico, then and now, is enlightening and inspiring."
—Johnny D. Boggs, six-time Spur Award winnerSpain, Princeton University Press
"Hidden Star intricately weaves the gray and faded threads of our ancestral memories into a rich and colorful tapestry that comes alive before your eyes. A nostalgic and poignant must-read!"
—Genie Medina Milgrom
Author of My Fifteen Grandmothers and How I Found My 15 Grandmothers (Como Encontre A Mis 15 Abuelas: A Step-by-Step Guide: Una Guia Paso a Paso)"
“This story unfolds gradually, with flashbacks to a distant past—which elicit the sense of recognition and identity. This wonderful
novel brings in the immediacy of history with its riveting story of today, offset by several historical episodes dealing with the 16th through 19th centuries. This novel carefully layers the past and present, recalling in some ways the strategies of Geraldine Brooks’ People of the Book.”
—Rebecca Benes, Author of Native American Picture Books of Change
About the Author
Corinne Joy Brown is a multi-published author, professional writer and editor who lives in Colorado. In addition to a passion for Western history and culture, she’s devoted her first two novels to the question of identity: MacGregor’s Lantern, a story about Scots in the frontier West, and Sanctuary Ranch, a saga of love and transformation.
The history of crypto or hidden Jews in the American Southwest, descendants of those who fled the Spanish Inquisition more than 500 years ago, became the ultimate stage for questions about selfhood and belief. Current editor of HaLapid, the journal of the Society for Crypto-Judaic Studies, Corinne is a past president of the Denver Woman’s Press Club, a Fellow at the University of Colorado at Colorado Springs, and was a presenter at the inauguration of the Anusim Center for Return in El Paso, Texas.
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