The comments by some of the reviewers are instructive more about themselves than about the work they review. The reviewer from Miami states that the narrative is exactly what one would one expect from such a character recounting her experiences to,let us say, her daughter. That is exactly the point of the book. The main character is not a sociologist. She simply received impressions, as most of us do, when we travel to Mexico or Greece or Italy, without either wholesale condemnation of people who live differently from middle-class Americans, nor extensive exoneration of their behavior by recourse to sociological explication of the effects of the history of exploitation and oppression. Let us understand plainly: the narrator is not the author, but a narrative voice (a character in the story) whose observations must correspond to the limitations of her concerns and her remembrances. The narrator plainly does not have any deep understanding of Mexico (she is no Octavio Paz), but that is much of the point of the story. Much of the value of the book is precisely the revelation of the disconnect between the Americans and the Mexicans - the inability to comprehend each other. If the narrator were truly to understand the Mexicans, or they her, the whole point of the book would have been lost. The reader from Seattle, on the other hand, has taken too many literature courses: she insists on a central character and a motif - preferably some kind of symbolic motif. The narrator in the story is not apt to construct her reminiscences in such a way as to revolve them about some central motif. She herself is the central character - everything is seen through her eyes and takes significance in terms of her own fate - culminating in the death of her husband and her departure from Mexico. Mexico remains unchanged. She has not the capacity, the inclination, or the will to change Mexico, or to change herself. To insist that she be different is to demand a different book. Finally, the Miami reader says that John Steinbeck was only joking: perhaps she may recall the tale of the young Mexican woman with many children who could afford only beans for her children: the American servicemen in California took pity on her and provided meat for her children. They all took deathly sick at the change in diet, and when they recovered, she found herself pregnant again. There is humor in his work, as well as in Stones for Ibarra, but it is the kind of humor that leads to redemption: the very counterpoint of mockery and denigration. Revelation of the disconnect between cultures can lead to thoughtfulness, which is the precursor of sympathetic understanding. Let us not confuse the characters with the authors, and let us pray that Steinbeck and Doerr find the readers they deserve.