When Rudolfo Anaya wrote a strong Hispanic novel, one reader compared it to the Harry Potter classic books.

“The books seemed totally different,” said Dana Gioia, chairman of the National Endowment for the Arts.

“Yet there was something magical about Anaya’s coming-of-age in post-World War II in New Mexico.”

Anaya’s book, “Bless Me Ultima,” became a best-seller. Now a play based on his book remains in the Valley, appearing on the stage twice more, April 9 and 10.Tickets are available at $6 at the Texas Theater at 115 E. Park Ave. in Pharr or by phoning 956-783-7746.

The playbill warns that this play has a PG-13 rating for a few scenes of violenece and inappropriate language. It does a realistic job of revealing how a boy grows up the hard way, both good and bad, funny and brutal.

Directed by Pedro Garcia and produced by Elva Michal, this is a remarkably strong confesson of a boy’s growing up in poverty and fear, yet surving against the odds.

“We have an archival play set in a time that is all past, after World War Two,” Garcia said. “These were simpler times. Kids used to play marbles and tops. In small Mexican communities people would see curanderos, healers and midwives, even to break an evil spell. It opens your eyes and touches your heart.”

This play contains sudden murders as well as happier scenes. It covers 20 actors from a huge range of ages. It is an unusual comedy and tragedy. But “asi es la vida,” that is life, and most plays are not this realistic.

This play is really a shocker, because it is so true to life. Yet everybody when we first saw it in rehearsal made us realize this is a classic of its kind.

The 29 actors range wide in ages, and all have some lines.

In order of listing, they are:

Amanda Sesin, as Ultima; Alex Gelman, Author; Alejandro Arango, Tony (Antonio);

Joseph Campos, Tenorio; Anna Mardiros, Maria; Arnold Flores, Gabriel;

Rigo Ordaz, Narcio; Victor Alanis, Lupito; Ivan X. Ramirez, Priest;

Raul Lopez, Juan; Marcelia Vazquez, Teacher; Pedro Castorena, Blas;

Alejandro Pacheco, Andrew; Judy Chavez, Witch 1; Karli Scalise, Witch 2;

Viviana Rodriguez, Witch 3; Patty Scalise, Mom; Dulce Roman, The Owl;

Daniel Roman, Deputy; Lisa May, La Muerte (Death); Sebastian Trevino, Kiko;

Rubetta Flores, Bones; Emily May, Agnes; Alyson Champion, June;

Cole Hammer, Horse; Andrew Valdez, Florence; Edward Mejia, Lucas;

Inocente Gutierrez, Prudencio; Edgar Diaz, Understudy.