Sunday, November 9, 2014

Book Review: Prayers for the Stolen

   It starts with this sentence:
                                            Now we make you ugly, my mother said.

We're immediately taken to Guerrero, Mexico, near Acapulco, where scorpions, snakes and fire ants abound, men are scarce, drug traffickers run rampant, and girls are stolen. They are hidden from view, passed off as boys for as long as possible, then tucked away in holes dug in the ground. The women in this harsh, rural area must hide their daughters, or their daughters may very well disappear.

The story is riveting. It's one of those novels that's almost impossible to put down. We are transported to a spot in this world that few of us will ever see. Through the author's words, we can imagine it so clearly, and then we have to wonder -- how much of this story is true?

A look at the Author's note in the back tells us that most of this is true. Though the story of Ladydi and her friends is fiction,  it is based on the author's interviews with hundreds of Mexican women and the reality that girls in Mexico often disappear.

As I started to realize how thorough the author's understanding of this problem is, alarm bells went off in my head. I wanted to scream from the rooftops that something must be done! The world needs to know, just as we've been alerted to the honor killings in the middle east and the genital mutilation of girls in Africa, girls in Mexico are being stolen and sold!

This novel is hard-hitting and honest. I cannot imagine living in an environment like Guerrero. I cannot imagine the poverty, hopelessness, or danger. As much as Jennifer Clement let us see, and let us imagine it, I cannot fathom it. This is a story and problem I won't soon forget.

It's the best book I've read this year.

(Lucky me, I received this book from Blogging for Books to review.)