Perla by Carolina De Robertis

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Title: Perla
Author: Carolina De Robertis
Pages: 236
Genre: literary fiction
Publisher: Borzoi/Alfred A. Knopf (Random House)
Pub. Date: March 27, 2012

I chose to read this book because I have been interested in learning more about the Argentinean "Dirty War". I feel like it's a piece of world history that I haven't actually heard much about. Perla  was certainly a beautifully written book that did well at demonstrating one aspect of this war. Yet, though I enjoyed it, I didn't adore it as much as I've seen other bloggers have.

Perla tells the story of a girl who has grown up with her parents in Buenos Aires, Argentina. She's been raised to doubt the claims made by the families who claim mistreatment during the war as well as lost family members. She learns that her father took part in the "alleged" crimes, though to her family it was an act of patriotism. Nevertheless, this affects her friendships as she grows up, and she experiences constant worry of rejection when others find out about her family. This book starts out when Perla is a young woman house sitting for her parents who are on vacation, when a man shows up mysteriously in her home, soaking wet, and unable to care for himself. This ends up jump starting a journey of self-discovery that Perla was likely to have begun anyway but for which his presence will have a significant impact.

There were both things I liked and things I didn't care for as much with Perla. What I did like was that the writing was beautiful. It's very literary, and you shouldn't be fooled by its 236 pages because it was a thorough read. I also thought the author took on the telling of this historical event from an interesting perspective. In it, we learn about the fates of "The Disappeared", the thousands (?... can't remember the exact number) of people who were taken by the government and never returned. It was interesting how the author chose to tell the story by taking it on from a side angle rather than telling the story straight from beginning to tend.

Part of what I didn't care for isn't the fault of this book specifically: that was that I would like to learn about this topic from a more straightforward viewpoint only because I don't know much about it. This book was not confusing, but I'm thinking I should look into a non-fiction about it. Now, while the book was beautifully written, I sometimes felt it was too much (I dislike intensely long sentences), and that sort of distracted from the actual story for me. The main thing, though, that I didn't care for was the paranormal aspect... I'm not into that genre typically and when I find it in what I expect to be a "regular" fiction I get very picky. In this case it was pretty integral to Perla's story, but it was weird too.

So overall, it was beautifully written and I enjoyed the take on this girl's experience with this war. But while I would still recommend this to some, I also would not recommend this to everyone. I think this book is good for those who enjoy the specifically literary and paranormal elements this book provides.

Follow the rest of the tour below:
Thursday, May 10th: Savvy Verse & Wit
Monday, May 14th: Reflections of a Bookaholic
Wednesday, May 16th: nomadreader
Thursday, May 17th: A Novel Source
Friday, May 18th: The Book Garden
Monday, May 21st: Diary of a Stay at Home Mom
Wednesday, May 23rd: Book Reviews by Molly
Friday, May 25th:  Unabridged Chick
Monday, May 28th: Just Joanna
Tuesday, May 29th: Take Me Away
Monday, June 4th: Luxury Reading
Tuesday, June 5th: lit*chick
Thursday, June 7th: Man of La Book


bermudaonion said...

I know absolutely nothing about that part of history. I'd probably do better with this fictionalized version of it.

Mrs Q Book Addict said...

I haven't heard much about this book, but now I'm very curious. This sounds like my type of book. Great review! Adding to my wishlist...

Meg @ A Bookish Affair said...

I really want to read this book. The Dirty War was such a scary period of time!

Zibilee said...

I liked reading your take on it because I feel like you and I would have a similar reaction to this book. I do think I would enjoy the beautiful writing, but the fact that so little of the history gets covered in more artistic and less factual way might bother me. I don't know much about the Dirty War, but am eager to learn, which is something that might be hard to do with this book. Very wonderful review today. It was filled with such great insight.

Sandy Nawrot said...

I don't mind paranormal so much, but if it is a part of history of which I am totally ignorant, it will do me no favors to learn of the historical aspect from a side view. I'm thinking this would be a book better read after first learning all the watching a documentary or something.

Tina~ said...

Fabulous review Jenny! This seems like it might be a weird read, I like paranormal but Im not sure if I could see myself reading this one.....I may have to check out though...:)

Ti said...

Paranormal? I would not expect to see flavors of that in a book like this.

nomadreader said...

I enjoyed this one, but I had similar issues to you with it too. I agree the writing was gorgeous. The long sentences didn't bother me here, although sometimes they do, but I found the story to be weaker than the writing. I also didn't mind the paranormal here, as I tend to expect magical realism in Latin fiction. I've recommended it to one friend, but I tend to avoid recommending non-straight-forward novels to most non-bloggers:-)

heathertlc said...

I too like to learn as I read, and that can sometimes be difficult when a book is focused on telling a story more than educating the reader. Still I think I'd really enjoy this book, and maybe more if I take some time to read up on the Dirty War before I start it.

Thanks for being on the tour!

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