The Moment of Truth

Written by Damian McNicholl
Review by Jenna Pavleck

This is a coming-of-age story inspired by real events in the life of the first American female bullfighter. Kathleen Boyd leaves behind her life as a college student in 1950s Texas to take up residence in Mexico, where she serves as an apprentice to a retired matador named Fermin Guzman. Although the dangerous world of bullfighting has always been dominated by men, Kathleen pursues her dream to become a full-fledged matador and perform at the renowned Plaza Mexico. However, as she begins to fill arenas and her fame as the “Texan Goddess” of the bullring rises, so does her suspicion that she is being used as a pawn to line Guzman’s pocketbook, and she is ultimately faced with a decision that will change the course of her life.

This novel is a triumphant celebration of women’s equality and empowerment. McNicholl writes with equal grace about the art of bullfighting, the traditions of the matador de toros, and Kathleen’s journey through love and heartbreak. While Kathleen’s story will surely resonate with anyone who has struggled against society’s views of traditional gender roles, it is filled with themes any reader can connect with. Knowing the story is based on real events made it all the more inspiring. It certainly left me feeling motivated to face my own hopes and fears.