Irene gives the wealthy businessmen what they want, diving headfirst into the filthy river, thinking only of providing for her baby daughter, Marisa, as the men salivate over her soaked body emerging onto the bank. A young boy tries to befriend the reticent younger sister of the town's cruelest bully, only to discover the family betrayal behind her quiet countenance. Josefa, a young bride, is executed for murdering the man who raped her. Joy Castro's How Winter Began traces these and other characters as they seek compassion from each other and themselves. Thematically linked by the lives of women, especially Latinas, and their experiences of poverty and violence in a white-dominated, wealth-obsessed culture, How Winter Began is a delicately wrought collection of stories. The question at the heart of this riveting book is how or whether to trust one another after the rupture of betrayal.