Southside-raised author debuts novel inspired by great-grandmother’s journey to US during the Mexican Revolution

A launch for ‘Barefoot Dreams of Petra Luna’ is schedule for Saturday at The Twig Book Shop

Alda P. Dobbs
Alda P. Dobbs (Live From the Southside Magazine)

SAN ANTONIOEditor’s note: This story was published through a partnership between KSAT and Live From the Southside, a new local- and Latina-owned magazine that works to improve & expand community relationships through promoting events, stories and businesses.

Alda P. Dobbs is the author of the novel “Barefoot Dreams of Petra Luna.” She was born in a small town in northern Mexico but moved to San Antonio and was raised on the South Side as a child.

She studied physics and worked as an engineer before pursuing her love of storytelling. She’s as passionate about connecting children to their past, their communities, different cultures and nature as she is about writing. She lives with her husband and two children outside Houston.

When Dobbs was a young girl, her great-grandmother, Juanita Martinez, told her stories of the Mexican Revolution.

When Martinez was 9 years old, she fled the fighting, destruction of the revolution, and the danger of the Federales, and crossed the harsh desert by foot to reach the border town of Piedras Negras, along with her father, two younger siblings, and two cousins.

At the border, their entry into the United States was denied along with thousands of other refugees. Finally, with the Federales bearing down, the gates opened and Martinez and her family were allowed entry.

Dobbs never forgot that story, and while contemplating writing an article about it, she embarked on a research journey, reading through dozens of books on the Mexican Revolution and U.S.-Mexican migration. She sorted through four major Texas newspapers beginning with the year 1910, and finally, after months of searching, she found an article that told the same story as her grandmother.

The event occurred in the early afternoon of Oct. 6, 1913, and it was exactly as her great-grandmother told it. It was then that she decided to write a novel inspired by her great-grandmother’s story.

Alda P. Dobbs is the author of the novel, "Barefoot Dreams of Petra Luna." (Live From the Southside Magazine)

“Barefoot Dreams of Petra Luna,” on sale Tuesday, Sept. 14, is a tale of one family’s perilous journey to cross the U.S. border during the Mexican Revolution that is every bit as relevant and heartbreaking today.

The year is 1913. Petra Luna’s mother has died, and her father has been dragged away by soldiers. She vowed to her father that she would care for the family — her grandmother, little sister and baby brother.

They flee north, through the harsh desert, attempting to find safe harbor. And each night, exhausted, Luna thinks about her dreams, especially her long-held desire to learn to read and write, something her abuelita calls barefoot dreams, which are “not meant to go far.” Luna refuses to let go of that dream. And through war, hunger, and danger, she stops at nothing to keep her family safe.

Come and celebrate the release of “Barefoot Dreams of Petra Luna” by attending the launch at The Twig Book Shop on Saturday, Sept. 18 from 6:30-8:30 p.m.

This article initially appeared on Live from the Southside.

Do you know of someone or something on the South Side that deserves some news coverage? Let us know in the prompt below.

Read more content by Live From The South Side Magazine: