Manana Means Heaven
In this love story of impossible odds, award-winning writer Tim Z. Hernandez weaves a rich and visionary portrait of Bea Franco, the real woman behind famed American author Jack Kerouac's "The Mexican Girl." Set against an ominous backdrop of California in the 1940s, deep in the agricultural heartland of the Great Central Valley, Mañana Means Heaven reveals the desperate circumstances that lead a married woman to an illicit affair with an aspiring young writer traveling across the United States.
When they meet, Franco is a migrant farmworker with two children and a failing marriage, living with poverty, violence, and the looming threat of deportation, while the "college boy" yearns to one day make a name for himself in the writing world. The significance of their romance poses vastly different possibilities and consequences.
Mañana Means Heaven deftly combines fact and fiction to pull back the veil on one of literature's most mysterious and evocative characters. Inspired by Franco's love letters to Kerouac and Hernandez's interviews with Franco, now in her nineties and living in relative obscurity, the novel brings this lost gem of a story out of the shadows and into the spotlight.
Hernandez's choice to write [Bea's] story as fiction is gutsy, inspired, and does honor to Kerouac, who fictionalized the real-life characters he met in On The Road. The result is an earthy and soulful tale, a version of their improbable love affair that feels as true as Kerouac's.
Hernandez gives incredible depth and dimensionality to the love story of Jack Kerouac and Bea Franco.
Hernandez's intimate knowledge of life amid the agricultural fields of central California and his ability to conjure the thoughts and emotions of the young Bea Franco make for a graceful and melancholy tale.
Hernandez's portrayal offers a telling counterpoint to Kerouac's rendering, reclaiming Franco's agency and offering a depth and insight into her circumstances and the life of women like her who, both on the page and in everyday life, are too often consigned to anonymity.
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