Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Perla by Caroline De Robertis

Sometimes, to hide your sadness, you have to cut yourself in two. That way you can bury half of yourself, the unspeakable half, and leave the rest to face to the world. I can tell you the first time I did this. I was fourteen years old, standing in a bathroom stall holding the last note I would ever receive from my friend Romina, a note consisting of a single question in furious capital letters.

We had been in class together for years, but did not grow close until we were thirteen, when Romina began to have her experience. That was her own word for it, experience, spoken in a hallowed tone that gave it an aura of great mystery.
“An experience,” I repeated blankly, the first time I heard of it.
“Come over tonight, I’ll show you,” Romina said.

Title: Perla
Author: Caroline De Robertis
ISBN: 9780307599599
Publisher: Knopf/2012
Pages: 256

Perla Correa is the daughter of a naval officer who has been responsible for the disappearance of thousands of innocent people in Argentina. Right from her childhood, Perla knows never to mention her father's work/career in front of her friends and classmates.  Perla is aware that the mothers of her friends march in the Plaza de Mayo, wearing white scarves in memory of the missing family members. She does not know why or how those people went missing. 

When an unlikely visitor, in the form of a stinking corpse, appears in her living room, Perla's is jolted out of her seemingly easy life. This wretched ghostly person was one of the 30, 000 victims of the "Process", the military dictatorship that ruled Argentina from 1976 to 1983. This person was thrown into the sea from an airplane. He is somehow connected to her past. 

All this makes Perla question her father's role in the junta and she is devastated by the truth. In this coming of age novel, the bonds between parent and child is tackled very beautifully. The revolution is in that background all the time and how Perla evolves out of it the crux. 

The language is lyrical and does not jar even when the author is talking about the excesses of the junta. She has made good use of metaphors and symbols which enhance our reading pleasure. Historically, I found the novel very informative.


kayerj said...

sounds sad--I'd probably pass. I hope you enjoy your book. kelley—the road goes ever ever on

Tea said...

The opening lines caught my attention. What beautiful writing, can't think of what the experience might be like. Would definitely continue reading.

fredamans said...

What an emotional and intriguing beginning.

Unknown said...

I'm definitely intrigued by this and would continue reading. My post is here

(Diane) Bibliophile By the Sea said...

WOW, terrific intro even though a bit somber.

Yvonne said...

This sounds really good, but sad.

Meytal Radzinski said...

I've actually read a few books that deal with topic, but surprisingly I think I found Perla to be the most effective and interesting of them all. The writing is strong, really a pleasure.