Review: Prayers for the Stolen by Jennifer Clement

prayers-for-the-stolen“A haunting story of love and survival that introduces an unforgettable literary heroine
Ladydi Garcia Martínez is fierce, funny and smart. She was born into a world where being a girl is a dangerous thing. In the mountains of Guerrero, Mexico, women must fend for themselves, as their men have left to seek opportunities elsewhere. Here in the shadow of the drug war, bodies turn up on the outskirts of the village to be taken back to the earth by scorpions and snakes. School is held sporadically, when a volunteer can be coerced away from the big city for a semester. In Guerrero the drug lords are kings, and mothers disguise their daughters as sons, or when that fails they “make them ugly” – cropping their hair, blackening their teeth- anything to protect them from the rapacious grasp of the cartels. And when the black SUVs roll through town, Ladydi and her friends burrow into holes in their backyards like animals, tucked safely out of sight.
While her mother waits in vain for her husband’s return, Ladydi and her friends dream of a future that holds more promise than mere survival, finding humor, solidarity and fun in the face of so much tragedy. When Ladydi is offered work as a nanny for a wealthy family in Acapulco, she seizes the chance, and finds her first taste of love with a young caretaker there. But when a local murder tied to the cartel implicates a friend, Ladydi’s future takes a dark turn. Despite the odds against her, this spirited heroine’s resilience and resolve bring hope to otherwise heartbreaking conditions.
An illuminating and affecting portrait of women in rural Mexico, and a stunning exploration of the hidden consequences of an unjust war, PRAYERS FOR THE STOLEN is an unforgettable story of friendship, family, and determination.” – Goodreads

Guerrero, Mexico is a town full of women and girls. No men reside here – once they have fathered their children, they leave for greener pastures, mostly in the United States. The women-folk are left to fend for themselves in this mountain town, fighting the land and the heat and the poverty – and the drug lords who come in the night to steal their pretty daughters. It is because of this that Ladydi, our heroine, tells us right off the bat:

“The best thing you can be in Mexico is an ugly girl.”

Prayers for the Stolen by Jennifer Clement is the powerful and heart-wrenching tale of Ladydi’s life in Guerrero and beyond, as she tries to survive a life with her angry, bitter, alcoholic mother while avoiding capture by the dangerous men who regularly kidnap her peers to use and sell as sex slaves. She details her attempt to rise above her humble beginnings by seeking employment as a nanny in a larger city, only to meet with even more tragedy. Ladydi tells her story by jumping back and forth between the present and the past, something which in some novels can be confusing, but in this one merely adds even more to the authenticity of Ladydi’s tale.

I was blown away by Clement’s writing – each scene exuded such power and meaning to me. I was on the edge of my seat, not wanting to miss a single word in fear of missing an important piece of wisdom she might be trying to impart upon her readers. There is such a strong sense of sisterhood throughout Ladydi’s story – this novel is a testament to the strength of women and the power of the bonds they form with each other – over and over this was demonstrated, in scene after scene.

Prayers for the Stolen has definitely wormed its way into my heart and onto my Favorites list, and Jennifer Clement has found herself a place on my Authors to Read list. I am quite anxious to read more of her work – in particular: A True Story Based on Lies and The Poison That Fascinates. I will definitely be keeping an eye out for any new work of hers in the future, as well. You might want to do the same.

Prayers for the Stolen by Jennifer Clement. Buy it, read it, love it.

4.5 out of 5

Source: FirstReads by Goodreads

 

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