I was up until the wee small hours of the morning finishing Ingrid Rojas Contreras’ phenomenal debut novel Fruit of the Drunken Tree and thus I’ve not been at the top of my game. However, it was worth it. The book is excellent and reading it has made me feel a little less stupid than I was before I read it.
Chula and Cassandra are sisters living a semi-charmed life in Bogotá, Colombia during the terroristic reign of Pablo Escobar. Petrona is the thirteen-year-old from the mountain slums who comes to be their maid. These two share the narrative duties of this novel that is heartbreaking and charming in equal measures.
This had an air of To Kill a Mockingbird about it, and I mean that as a high compliment. There’s kids figuring out the world while the adults do political adult things that have serious repercussions on the kids’ lives. Plus, there is cheating and betrayal and the kinds of things that are mysterious and dangerous only when you’re a child and all this is set against a backdrop that is actually filled with danger. When you read this book, make sure you stick around for the author’s afterword.