Perla - Carolina De Robertis The Dirty War of Argentina (1975-1983), what dirty legacy has been left by this war on the Argentinian people? An answer to this question, through the distorted /skewed “writing lens” of magical realism, is what this novel offers you. Bizarrely enough, although the magical reality portrayed is nonsensical, you get an honest, a perceptive and a heart wrenching idea of the consequences of this war. I cannot say more without giving significant spoilers.

I listened to the audiobook, narrated by the author. I believe a trained narrator would have done a better job. Dialog, verbal interplay between the characters, rings true; with that I have no complaint. I enjoyed the discordant, quick responses. However when the prose is philosophical, “deep” and full of portent, the tone becomes ludicrously slow and melodramatic. In these parts it feels like she wants to impress on the listener how important and significant these words are. Had the lines been read with less passion, I would have enjoyed them and thought the message was moving and noteworthy, in fact wonderful writing! I told myself to listen to the words, not her voice…… I tried re-listening to such sections and they improved. Maybe I am a picky listener, but tone and verbal inflection can change how you perceive the prose.

I do have some problems with this book. Although the reader gets a very moving understanding of how it would feel to be a child of one of the “disappeared”, how biological grandparents and other relatives were affected and the guilt that must shroud the non-biological parents’ behavior, the author completely avoids how the girl resolved her conflict with her non-biological parents! This is a total cop out in my view. We are told that in the future they might talk…..

You come to understand how the father is torn because he seems to really love his daughter. The mother’s feelings for her daughter are so cold, they are hard to comprehend. I am here speaking of the non-biological parents.

How would you feel if you found out one day your whole life was one of lies?

Maybe I had better back up and explain that during this war, those that opposed the views of the generals were removed. 30.000 were killed. Naked, drugged and tortured, they were dropped to their deaths from airplanes into the sea below. 500 children were taken from the “disappeared” and given to chosen adoptive parents supportive of the generals’ regime.

I must add that if you need a story that sticks to strict reality, you may have a hard time reading this. I believe that the magical realism is so well executed that reality could be bent, and I usually cannot read fantastical stories!

Definitely worth reading, but I can only give it three stars because of the problems mentioned above in the spoiler.