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Study says values taught in public schools

Study says values taught in public schools

(August 10, 2001)

University of California, Riverside Creative Writing Professor Susan Straight began writing "Highwire Moon" at 20 after hearing a story about a mother and daughter separated during an immigration raid. Now, after penning four other novels and rearing three daughters, Straight has returned to complete her tale.

"Highwire Moon," published this week by Houghton and Mifflin, is the story of two unforgettable heroines. Serafina is an undocumented Mexican Indian mother, who is brutally separated from her daughter, Elvia, during an immigration raid.

The book traces Serafina's illegal entry into Southern California and her relationship with an occasional speed freak, Larry Foley, who fathers Elvia and introduces the reader, and his daughter, to the seamy underbelly of Southern California's drug world. It also traces Serafina's journey from her native southern Mexican Indian village in Oaxaca, to reunite with her daughter.

For Straight, the book developed piece by piece as her life experiences filled in the voids she encountered from her initial attempts at writing the work.

"I began the novel from the child's point of view, left in the car, but when I tried to write about the mother, I didn't know that kind of fear," Straight said of her initial foray into the book. Only after becoming a mother to three girls did Straight feel able to write about the gut-wrenching desperation of losing a child, and the hope of reunion.

In the interim, Straight wrote critically acclaimed fiction including,

"Aquaboogie," "I Been In Sorrow's Kitchen and Licked Out

All the Pots," and "Blacker Than a Thousand Midnights."

All her novels are set in the fictional town of Rio Seco, California, a loose parallel to her hometown, the largely Latino and African-American Eastside neighborhood of Riverside, which informs much of her work.

<>Straight has authored four highly praised novels and a collection of short stories. She won the prestigious Lannan Foundation Award in August 1999, and received a 1997 Guggenheim Fellowship.

The University of California, Riverside ( is a doctoral research university, a living laboratory for groundbreaking exploration of issues critical to Inland Southern California, the state and communities around the world. Reflecting California's diverse culture, UCR's enrollment has exceeded 21,000 students. The campus opened a medical school in 2013 and has reached the heart of the Coachella Valley by way of the UCR Palm Desert Center. The campus has an annual statewide economic impact of more than $1 billion.

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