Mañana Means Heaven
In Mañana Means Heaven, award-winning writer Tim Hernandez explores the story behind Jack Kerouac’s famous tale, “The Mexican Girl,” which was first published as a short story in The Paris Review, thus paving the way for publication of what is now an American icon, On the Road. Hernandez established a relationship with Bea Franco (“Terry” in Kerouac’s story) fifty-some years after the publication of On the Road. After reading her letters and listening to her reminiscence, Hernandez blended fact and fiction to shine a light on what life was like for Mexican women in the 1940s.
Bea Franco is a woman on the run when she meets Jack Kerouac, the “college boy” who spends the next two weeks with her. She is running from her abusive husband, hoping to start a new life in L.A. Instead, she met up with the “college boy” and entered into the archives of American literature. Not a bad end for a 15-day, tequila-soaked love affair.
Hernandez’s writing is lush and true, though at certain moments, the book feels almost over-written. Hernandez is also a poet and the language in this novel certainly reflects his poetic side. This is an important novel for many reasons. I find it particularly pleasing to see how Hernandez weaves together what he’s learned in research with the story of one woman, a woman who is more than “The Mexican Girl.”