Melinda Palacio

Ocotillo Dreams

Here in California, the immigration debate has always felt fairly close to home. But in Arizona, the furor over undocumented workers has at times reached fever pitch. That’s why Santa Barbara resident Melinda Palacio chose Chandler, Arizona, as the setting for her debut novel, Ocotillo Dreams. The book takes place during the “Chandler Roundup” of July 1997, when police officers swept through the Phoenix suburb, detaining and deporting those who couldn’t prove U.S. citizenship.

The book follows Isola, a young woman from California who inherits her mother’s house in Chandler and decides to relocate. There she finds a community torn apart by hostility and distrust, and begins to uncover clues to her mother’s past.

Palacio will hold a book launch and signing for Ocotillo Dreams at Montecito’s Tecolote Book Shop (1470 E. Valley Rd.) on Saturday, August 20, at 4 p.m. For more info, visit


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