Cindy Ramirez
Susie Byrd calls "Bless Me, Ultima," by New Mexico writer Rudolfo Anaya, an "incredibly remarkable book" whose pages an entire community should turn over and over again.

"When you hear her voice, you will never forget her," said Byrd, the city representative whose parents are writers and owners of a local independent publishing company, Cinco Puntos Press.

"She's marvelous," Byrd said about Ultima, the elderly curandera, or medicine woman, portrayed in what has become one of the best-selling Chicano novels of all time.

The coming-of-age story is at the center of El Paso READS, a six-week citywide reading challenge launched Wednesday that encourages people to read the novel before its film adaptation premieres at El Paso's Plaza Theatre on Sept. 17. The film will be released at various El Paso movie theaters Sept. 21.

"It should be like 'Harry Potter,' which everyone reads vigorously before the movie comes out," Byrd said.

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