A novel, by Anca L. Szilagyi. Expected release date: December 5th, 2017 by Lanternfish Press*.
This story took me completely by surprise. Publicly released descriptions do not prepare you for the grit and ache and struggle and longing that will fold over you as you read the words on the page. I love characters that make me feel something because those emotions are what I carry with me, what I return to as I experience my own life.
The story alternates between Argentina during the Dirty War in the late 1970s and Brooklyn, NY a few years later. The main character, who calls herself “Pluta”, is an awkward (but mostly happy) young girl – until her father disappears amidst political turmoil. She and her mother flee and find themselves in New York where her mother struggles to cope with the terrible turn of events. Pluta is sent to a boarding school where she runs away, desperate to spread her wings and fly. She finds herself alone on the streets of Brooklyn where she begins to evolve in more ways that one.
Szilagyi’s writing is so vivid that I felt I was in Argentina and Brooklyn (I have never been to either). She has this way of transporting you into the characters and their inhibited space while sparing you of any fluff. She is a smart writer, dropping you straight into the white hot truth of life. Reality becomes about “tumors or mutation or evolution”.
There is a couple of things about this novel that stand out to me:
1. Its an adult story (very adult – see #2) where the main character is a young girl. Typically, the age of the main character is one of a few factors that determine genre – young adult vs adult fiction – but this one is definitely not young adult.
In fact, there are a few Autumn reading challenges floating around YouTube** that require an adult novel with a young girl as the main character – this would be a great candidate.
2. There are some traumatic things that happen to Pluta (she is a lone teenager on the streets of Brooklyn, after all) but these events are relevant to the character and story. While I was shocked at the time, it was not for shock value and the story would be missing something without them.
3. The narrative of Pluta’s mother is undeniably human, and deals with motherhood and marriage themes that I think society often shies away from. She doesn’t directly articulate it, but the subtle sense of weight in her relationships was something I appreciated.
This book was a shining example of why I love getting advanced reader copies from publishers (thanks!). It stretches my reading boundaries and introduces me to new authors and styles, and… Y’all know how much I love a stunning debut novel. I have all the feels.
I hope you enjoy this gripping tale as much as I did. I’m looking forward to Szilagyi’s future work.
* Thanks to Lanternfish Press, NetGalley, and the author for the free copy in exchange for my honest review.
**Not sponsored, just tagged for fun