Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Review: Prayers for the Stolen by Jennifer Clement

Title: Prayers for the Stolen
Author: Jennifer Clement
Format: ARC
Publisher: Hogarth
Publish Date: February 11, 2014
Source: I received a copy from the publisher; however, this did not affect my review.

Why You're Reading This Book:

  • You're a fiction fan.
  • You like strong characters.
  • You don't mind tough subjects.
What's the Story?:

From Goodreads.com: "Ladydi Garcia Martínez is fierce, funny and smart. She was born into a world where being a girl is a dangerous thing. In the mountains of Guerrero, Mexico, women must fend for themselves, as their men have left to seek opportunities elsewhere. Here in the shadow of the drug war, bodies turn up on the outskirts of the village to be taken back to the earth by scorpions and snakes. School is held sporadically, when a volunteer can be coerced away from the big city for a semester. In Guerrero the drug lords are kings, and mothers disguise their daughters as sons, or when that fails they “make them ugly” – cropping their hair, blackening their teeth- anything to protect them from the rapacious grasp of the cartels. And when the black SUVs roll through town, Ladydi and her friends burrow into holes in their backyards like animals, tucked safely out of sight.

While her mother waits in vain for her husband’s return, Ladydi and her friends dream of a future that holds more promise than mere survival, finding humor, solidarity and fun in the face of so much tragedy. When Ladydi is offered work as a nanny for a wealthy family in Acapulco, she seizes the chance, and finds her first taste of love with a young caretaker there. But when a local murder tied to the cartel implicates a friend, Ladydi’s future takes a dark turn. Despite the odds against her, this spirited heroine’s resilience and resolve bring hope to otherwise heartbreaking conditions."

My Two Cents:

 Here's a little known fact about me: I studied Latin American politics in college and I'm absolutely fascinated by that region and I'm always excited when I can read something about this region. "Prayers for the Stolen" is set in Guerrero, Mexico, a place with an interesting history and a lot of violence in its current day. Ladydi, named after Princess Diana, grows up in a world where if you are pretty at all, you are probably going to be kidnapped. The women of the town spend an inordinate amount of time making their little girls ugly and therefore (hopefully) less likely to be stolen.

This book blew me away in both the writing and the story. Ladydi felt so real to me. We get to see her innermost thoughts and how she tries to fight her fate. She starts out in a very poor village and rises up only to fall again, yet she is incredibly resilient. I really liked her character. Even though she grows up in a world full of danger, she is fearless. She wants a lot more for herself than her mother can give her. You have to admire her perseverance. I was definitely pulling for her throughout the entire book. Ladydi is definitely a character that I am going to be thinking about for a long time in the future.

The story in this book is so good. I am absolutely fascinated with some of the things that happen in our neighbor to the south, Mexico. I've spent a good deal of time there and I loved seeing Mexico through Ladydi's eyes. This book is hard to read in some sections because of all of the things that happen to some of the characters throughout the book. That being said, I thought that the author did a good job of showing so many different sides to the country. I loved the storytelling in this book!


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