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Reviewed by Lauren Cannavino
Perla by Carolina De Robertis unravels not only one young woman’s family life as she knows it, but also uncovers the many complex layers of her inner self. De Robertis accomplishes this without making the novel seem like a coming of age tale which it is very far from being.
Perla is bright, quiet and completely taken off guard when a mysterious stranger shows up one night at her home. She remains calm and inquisitive, even as the strange man stands in front of her naked, wet and unable to speak in the middle of the night. It seems that he is meant to be exactly where he is and Perla seems to grasp this almost immediately.
Perla is a twenty-something year old girl living in Argentina after the end of a military dictatorship during which thousands of people “disappeared” and was a shadow period not only for the country, but also in her own home. Perla’s commentary in the novel streams fluidly back and forth between the present and the past. As the mysterious man sits quietly in her living room, Perla recants in her head moments of her youth that made her realize that perhaps there was more to her parents than what was exposed on the surface. Her father, a naval captain, won’t speak of the time when people disappeared and her mother is cold and aloof.
When Perla has a childhood friend discover that her father has a military career, the pieces start to fall together that he may have a connection to the nation’s horrible past. When she meets and falls in love with the handsome and smart Gabriel, an editor at a popular paper, even more answers begin to come to the surface for her. These answers and revelations lead Perla to make drastic choices in her life.
De Robertis does a fantastic job of using the mysterious visitor as a vessel for shedding light on Perla’s situation, which helps her gain her new awareness. The visitor is a ghost of the past, a specter in her living room who speaks of the past, the country, of Perla and himself. The items that he reveals before vanishing will forever remain with Perla. What she discovers from the visitor tells a tale of the secrets people keep from one another and themselves.
Perla is a strong, thoughtful character that possesses a quiet poise that allows for her to receive the answers that she so desperately seeks. The book is a bit magical, thought-provoking and strong, just like Perla herself.
Review and giveaway copies were provided free of any obligation by Knopf. No monetary or any other form of compensation was received.a Rafflecopter giveaway