The basics: When a mysterious figure arrives at Perla's home in Buenos Aires, she must confront Argentina's Dirty War, the role of her parents in it, and what it means for her.
My thoughts: When I began this novel, I was immediately struck by the power and beauty of the writing. De Robertis writes with strength and smoothness. Her words commanded the page and transported me into the world of Perla. The line between reality and magical realism was not immediately clear, which helped draw me into this fascinating world even more quickly. I soon discovered I cared more about the journey of Perla than where magical realism began.
In many ways, Perla is a coming of age story. The novel is largely told in flashbacks as Perla and this mysterious houseguest talk she revisits childhood memories for clues of what was really happening in Argentina. Perla's journey is both personal and an doorway into a fascinating and troubling piece of Argentinian history.
Favorite passage: "There’s that feeling that comes when you read something and the lines speak directly to you, and to you only, even though the person who wrote them died long before you were born, or, even if alive, has no idea you exist. The words seep right into your mind. They pour into your secret hollow and take their shape, a perfect fit, like water. And you are slightly less alone in the universe, because you have been witnessed, because you have been filled, because someone once found words for things within you that you couldn’t yourself name--something gesturing not only toward what you are, but what you could become. In that sense, books raise you, in a way your parents can’t. They emancipate you."
The verdict: De Robertis writes with lyricism and grace. Perla's journey in this novel is moving, but what keeps this novel from achieving perfection is the power of the writing outshines the story itself at times.
Rating: 4 out of 5
Length: 236 pages
Publication date: March 27, 2012
Source: publisher via TLC Book Tours
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