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A coming-of-age story, based on a recent shocking chapter of Argentine history, about a young woman who makes a devastating discovery about her origins with the help of an enigmatic houseguest.
Perla Correa grew up a privileged only child in Buenos Aires, with a cold, polished mother and a straitlaced naval officer father, whose profession she learned early on not to disclose in a country still reeling from the abuses perpetrated by the ...
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A coming-of-age story, based on a recent shocking chapter of Argentine history, about a young woman who makes a devastating discovery about her origins with the help of an enigmatic houseguest.
Perla Correa grew up a privileged only child in Buenos Aires, with a cold, polished mother and a straitlaced naval officer father, whose profession she learned early on not to disclose in a country still reeling from the abuses perpetrated by the deposed military dictatorship. Perla understands that her parents were on the wrong side of the conflict, but her love for her papá is unconditional. But when Perla is startled by an uninvited visitor, she begins a journey that will force her to confront the unease she has suppressed all her life, and to make a wrenching decision about who she is, and who she will become.
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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Following her successful fiction debut, Invisible Mountain, De Robertis tackles the lingering repercussions of the state-sponsored disappearances of political dissidents that characterized Argentina’s late-1970s dirty war. In March 2001, while 22-year-old Perla Correa’s parents are on vacation, a naked man, smelling like “fish and copper and rotting apples,” materializes in her living room in an affluent Buenos Aires suburb, and Perla finds herself drawn to him. Over several days, he recalls the life he shared with his pregnant wife—a life that ended when he was abducted more than two decades earlier. As she listens, Perla laments her recent breakup with a kindhearted journalist who suspected that she herself might have been stolen from disappeared parents, a possibility that Perla has never wondered about, or “more accurately, I had, but the wondering barely left an imprint on my conscious memory, it had been as rapid as a blink.” Perla neglects her friends and studies to spend time with the stranger, whose stories speak to her long dormant search for identity. She struggles for truth as she sorts through the shards of Argentina’s shattered history, piecing together the painful fragments that may rightfully be hers. This ambitious narrative, largely told in flashbacks, is propulsive and emotionally gripping. De Robertis’s lyrical flights are grounded in the fulfillment of the most desperate wishes of disappeared parents and their children, culminating in a wrenching catharsis about rebirth and healing. (Mar.)
Library Journal
While house-sitting for her well-to-do parents, Buenos Aires college student Perla Correa is confronted by a strange intruder. Having recently ended a serious relationship with Gabriel when his well-intentioned prying into her family background became threatening, Perla is now forced to examine the role her father, a high-ranking military officer, played in Argentina's horrific state-sponsored terror of the 1970s–80s, as well as her mother's complicity. Perla's journey intersects with the fate of thousands of "the disappeared" (los desaparecidos) as she pores over the clues to her family's past and realizes the way to her own future. A translator, short fiction writer, and novelist—her debut, The Invisible Mountain, was an international best seller—De Robertis skillfully weaves a lyrical voice around her characters that treats victims, perpetrators, and bystanders with the same care and honesty. The result is a powerfully humanizing effort that examines a nation struggling with a very dark, recent past. VERDICT Highly recommended for all fiction enthusiasts, particularly those interested in Latin and South American issues; read with works like Marie Arana's Cellophane and Laura Restrepo's Delirium and No Place for Heroes. [See Prepub Alert, 9/11/11.]—Jenn B. Stidham, Houston Community Coll.-Northeast, TX
Kirkus Reviews
The ghost of Argentina's Dirty War quite literally haunts a woman whose father supported the junta's brutality. Perla, the narrator of the second novel by De Robertis (The Invisible Mountain, 2009), is a young university student who's spent much of her life keeping a dark secret: Her father was a naval officer who during the late 1970s and early '80s helped round up the "disappeared," dissidents who were arrested and executed by the military regime, often dropped into the Atlantic Ocean from airplanes. That dark history has shaped her friendships and complicated her romantic relationship with a journalist investigating the Dirty War. But that legacy becomes unavoidable to her when a man appears in Perla's home, soaked and dank-smelling and constantly thirsty. He's a ghost of one of the disappeared, but also quite real: The water that he can't shake off soaks the apartment. His surreal presence unlocks a host of memories for Perla, and the novel alternates between her perspective, as she recalls her difficult relationship with her father, and the stranger's perspective, as he recalls the horrific rapes and other abuses he suffered while in military custody. The tone is mournful, but the book is as much romance as tragedy: De Robertis favors long, luxurious sentences that help give the novel a sense of uplift. That style makes for a few fecund, overwritten passages, but on the whole the story is remarkably convincing: The ghost is an effective metaphor for the history Perla's family can't suppress, and De Robertis is clearly attuned to the afteraffects of the dictatorship on contemporary Argentina, where it still fills books, newspapers and TV reports. We are products of our times, she means to say, but past history isn't necessarily our destiny. An elegantly written and affecting meditation on life in the wake of atrocity.
From the Publisher

“Beautiful. . . . Wrenching. . . . De Robertis is an extraordinarily courageous writer who only gets better with every book.”
—Junot Díaz

“Mesmerizing. . . . A moving, poetic novel about the costs of revolution and the evolutionary process that is identity.”
O, The Oprah Magazine

“Haunting . . . a sensitive exploration of love, loyalty, and hope in the wake of atrocity.”
The New Yorker

“De Robertis brings the best of two cultures to bear in her work, melding the Latin literary tradition of magical realism with a thoroughly modern, politically charged North American sensibility. . . . [Her] extraordinary gift makes this brave, important book an object of beauty.”
Chicago Tribune

 “De Robertis holds the reader’s attention with her entrancingly rhythmic and pulsating prose. . . . [Her] voice is distinctive and her novel vivid and memorable.”
The Wall Street Journal

“A gripping journey that’s as heart-wrenching as it is healing; a reminder that the Disappeared must not be forgotten. . . . Both the story and prose flow like a glistening Rio de la Plata. . . . De Robertis’ writing . . . from beginning to end hypnotizes with poetic, crushing beauty.”
Minneapolis Star Tribune

“Impressive. . . . Bold. . . . In an artful blend of beauty and horror, De Robertis has made the disappeared visible once again. With that, she has done them—and us—a great service.”
San Francisco Chronicle

“This ambitious narrative . . . is propulsive and emotionally gripping. . . . Culminating in a wrenching catharsis about rebirth and healing.”
Publishers Weekly (starred review)

“[Perla] is a literary descendant of Toni Morrison’s Beloved, but very much its own achingly original, hauntingly lyrical outing.”
East Bay Express

—New York Daily News

“It’s no exaggeration to say I’ve rarely read a more poetic novel than Carolina De Robertis’ Perla. What makes it doubly impressive is the subject matter that this author takes on. . . . De Robertis is a new voice for Latin America, following in the footsteps of Isabel Allende, and dare I say it, Gabriel Garcia Marquez.”
Washington Independent Book Review

“De Robertis skillfully weaves a lyrical voice around her characters that treats victims, perpetrators, and bystanders with the same care and honesty. The result is a powerfully humanizing effort that examines a nation struggling with a very dark, recent past.”
Library Journal (starred review)

“Lyrically combining into reality both the fantastic and the horrific, De Robertis weaves a beautiful and plain-faced tale about birth, rebirth, and the responsibility of inheritance from complex, startling history.”
Booklist (starred review)

“An elegantly written and affecting meditation on life in the wake of atrocity.”
Kirkus Reviews

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780307599599
  • Publisher: Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group
  • Publication date: 3/27/2012
  • Pages: 256
  • Product dimensions: 6.56 (w) x 9.34 (h) x 1.00 (d)

Meet the Author

Carolina De Robertis was raised in England, Switzerland, and California by Uruguayan parents. Her debut novel, The Invisible Mountain, was an international best seller that was translated into fifteen languages; it was an O, The Oprah Magazine 2009 Terrific Read, a San Francisco Chronicle Best Book of the Year, and the recipient of Italy’s Rhegium Julii Prize. She is the recipient of a 2012 fellowship from the National Endowment for the Arts. Her fiction and literary translations have appeared in Granta, Zoetrope: All-Story, and the Virginia Quarterly Review, among other publications. She lives in Oakland, California.
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Read an Excerpt

Excerpted from the Hardcover Edition


Arrival Some things are impossible for the mind to hold alone. So listen, if you can, with your whole being. The story pushes and demands to be told, here, now, with you so close and the past even closer, breathing at the napes of our necks.

He arrived on the second of March, 2001, a few minutes after midnight. I was alone. I heard a low sound from the living room, a kind of scrape, like fingernails on unyielding floor—­then silence. At first I couldn’t move; I wondered whether I had left a window open, but no, I had not. I picked up the knife from the counter, still flecked with squash, and walked slowly down the hall toward the living room with the knife leading the way, thinking that if it came to fighting I’d be ready, I’d stab down to the hilt. I turned the corner and there he lay, curled up on his side, drenching the rug.

He was naked. Seaweed stuck to his wet skin, which was the color of ashes. He smelled like fish and copper and rotting apples. Nothing had moved: the sliding glass door to the backyard was closed and intact, the curtains were unruffled, and there was no damp trail where he might have walked or crawled. I could not feel my limbs, I was all wire and heat, the room crackled with danger.

“Get out,” I said.

He didn’t move.

“Get the hell out,” I said, louder this time.

He lifted his head with tremendous effort and opened his eyes. They were wide eyes that seemed to have no bottom. They stared at me, the eyes of a baby, the eyes of a boa. In that moment something in my core came apart like a ship losing its mooring, anchor dismantled, the terror of dark waters on all sides, and I found that I could not turn away.

I raised the knife and pointed it at him.

The man shuddered and his head collapsed against the floor. My instinct was to rush to his side, help him up, offer him a hot drink or an ambulance. But was he pretending, hoping I’d come closer so he could overpower me? Don’t do it. Don’t go near him. I took a step backward and waited. The man had given up on lifting his head again, and was watching me from the corners of his eyes. A minute passed. He did not blink or lunge or look away.

Finally, I said, “What do you want?”

His jaws began to work, slowly, arduously. The mouth opened and water poured out, thick and brown like the water of the river, seeping into the rug. The murky smell in the room intensified. I took another step back and pressed against the wall. It felt cool and hard and I wished it would whisper Sshhh, don’t worry, some things are solid still, but it was only a wall and had nothing to say.

His lips worked around empty air. I waited and watched him strain to form a word. Finally he spoke, unintelligibly and too loudly, like a deaf person who has not learned to sculpt his sounds. “Co-­iii-­aahh.”

I shook my head.

He made the sound again, more slowly. “Coo. Iiiii. Aaaahh.”

I tried to piece it together. “Coya?” I asked, thinking, a name? a place I’ve never heard of?

“Coo. Miiiii. Aaah.”

I nodded blankly.

“Coo. Miiiii. Dah.”

And then I understood. “Co-­mi-­da. Food. Food?”

He nodded. Drops of water fell from his face, too copious to be sweat; they seeped from his pores, a human sponge just lifted from the river—­though even sponges would stop dripping at some point, and this man’s wetness had not relented. Without turning my gaze away from him, I pressed the knife against my arm, to see whether I was dreaming. The blade broke skin and drew blood and I felt the pain but did not wake out of this reality into another one. If my father had been here he surely would not have seen this ghoulish man, or if he had, he would have stabbed him already, without a word, then poured a glass of scotch and watched Mamá clean up the carpet. I met the stranger’s gaze and felt my heart pulse like a siren in my chest. I should attack him, I thought. I should chase him out. But I couldn’t bring myself to do either. Later, I would look back on this moment as the one when my real life began: the moment in which, without knowing why, to my own shock and against all reason, I lowered my weapon and went to forage for food.

The kitchen was just as I’d left it, only the pot had boiled over on the stove, water hissing as it leaped out onto the burner. I had been cooking squash for Lolo, the turtle, who stood by the refrigerator, neck craned from his shell, unperturbed. My cigarette had gone out on the counter. I was shocked to see it, as it did not feel like the same night on which, just a few minutes earlier, I had stood there smoking and chopping squash, thinking to myself, as though repetition would make me believe it, it’s good to be alone, the house to myself, and isn’t it wonderful, I can do anything I want, eat toast for dinner, whirl naked in the kitchen if I choose, leave dirty dishes on the sofa, sit with my legs spread wide, cry without explaining myself to anyone.

I turned off the fire under the pot of squash, and began to rummage through the refrigerator. Mamá had left the house well stocked. I gathered an array of foods on a tray: Gouda, bread, last night’s roast chicken and potatoes, white wine, a glass of water, a few bonbons in a gold box—­and headed back down the hall. I still had the knife with me, nestled between the dishes. My parents protested, from nowhere, from the air at my back, and I had no answer for them. I felt the heavy cape of their disapproval, their dismay at my breach of common sense. Perla, what are you doing? I imagined them calling as I kept on down the hall and into the living room.

He had not strayed from his position, folded into himself like a fetus. He did not shiver. The burgundy rug was almost black with water. He was motionless except for one bare foot that tapped silently against the floor. He stared at the wall and his eyes did not blink. In the morning I would wake up and he would be gone and the carpet would be dry, dry, because none of this ever happened.

I put the tray down on the floor beside him. He stared as if it held objects from a strange and sunken kingdom. He made no move to rise and eat, and, I realized, he probably couldn’t, since he’d barely had the strength to move his mouth. He was as vulnerable as a dazed infant, and might be waiting for me to feed him, bite by bite. The notion repulsed me—­my hand at his mouth, his damp skin brushing against mine—­and so I waited. He made a sound, unformed and plaintive, all vowel and longing. Another minute passed.

Finally, I asked, “Would you like some chicken?”

He shook his head, almost imperceptibly.


He shook again.




He nodded, and his eyes widened. Pleading.

There was no avoiding it. He could not serve himself. I lifted the glass from the tray, toward his lips, and he raised his head a few centimeters from the floor. Now that I was closer, I saw a bluish tinge to his lips, and a sheen of moisture on his face. I tipped the glass, carefully, and he chewed as though he were eating the water, as though it were as solid as bread. I was careful not to touch him with my fingers, although even then my repulsion warred with a prick of curiosity: what on earth would his skin feel like?

He finished eating and sank his head back to the floor.

“Who are you?” I said, but he had closed his eyes.

I didn’t know what to do with myself, so I sat on the floor for a while, next to the stranger. I thought of trying to move him somewhere, to the backyard, to the street. But he seemed too heavy, it would be worse if the motion woke him up, and in any case what if the neighbors saw? Easier to just do nothing, go to bed and in the morning he’d be gone the way he came. Not a rational solution, but one to get me through the night.

I felt so tired. It had been ten days since my fight with Gabriel, since I’d left him on that Uruguayan beach with empty hands and emptier eyes and no promise of ever seeing him again. Since then, unpalatable visions had not let me sleep. But in the morning I would always rise and polish the surface of myself, a gleaming, confident young woman, an excellent student and good daughter starting her fourth year at the university, moving smoothly through the world, and even though inside the chaos scraped and railed I would push it into the crevices of the day so it could not be detected.

The only person who could be counted on to see through my masks was Gabriel. When we first met, four years ago, I thought it was because he was seven years older, and therefore more sophisticated. But surely there were twenty-­five-­year-­old men who were barely men and didn’t know how to see the black hole in a poised eighteen-­year-­old girl. I had managed to deceive professors, friends, my parents and their friends, everyone except Gabriel. Early on, when I said I had to go study for a psychology exam, he had said, All that Freud, and yet you can’t see your own demons. Then he kissed me, laughing, which enraged me. My own desire to kiss back enraged me more. Don’t talk to me about demons, I said, until you’ve wrestled down your own. He looked at me as if I’d just spoken the secret of seduction. I did no studying that night; not of Freud—­only of the slopes of his body, the urge in his hands, his mouth against my skin, his sex hard against me through his jeans. That was our first year together, the least complicated of our years, when I was simply Perla and not the people I was linked to, before we talked about his work or my family let alone the explosive combination of the two, before our images of each other started cracking, fault lines spreading, as happens to mirrors hit by tiny stones. It was enough, then, to kiss and laugh and argue, to smoke and drink and undulate against each other until the heat we generated hauled the sun out of its sleep.

I thought of this as I left the stranger on the floor and went back to the kitchen, where I put the boiled squash in a bowl on the floor for Lolo, who was hiding somewhere but would surely come in the night, when the house was asleep. I walked up the stairs toward bed, feeling both exhausted and viscerally awake. I longed to turn back time and reenter those early nights with Gabriel, reenter Gabriel himself, the scent of him, his vigorous voice, the gaze that made me feel transparent. Wrapped in his presence I would look for the woman I had been with him, or believed that I could be. And who is that woman, Perla? A braver woman, a woman from underground, carrying secrets like subdued snakes in both hands. Inklings of that woman had flared at me during nights with Gabriel; I could imagine burning through my own reality to become the snake-­woman, hair on fire, ready to rise. But these were only absurd imaginings, and anyway ten days ago I’d shut that door, and shut the door on Gabriel. He was gone from me now and it was my own doing. I had to do it, there was no other choice, I thought, night after night, running the words through my mind, no other choice, no other choice, an incantation whose power grew with repetition. I had thought he might call me, but he did not. He had been angrier than I’d thought. If he doesn’t call in seven days, I thought, it’s absolutely over—­and when seven days had passed with no Gabriel I thought my heart would come apart but instead of shedding a single tear I went to a bar near the university, found a shy classmate called Osvaldo, and let him take me home. It was shockingly easy, all it took was a split second longer gaze than usual and five minutes later he’d bought me a drink, thirty minutes later we left the bar for the raucous night. On the walk to his apartment he acted like a miner who had stumbled on a vein of gold. He was a kind person, but when he reached into my body he found my body only. He never sensed the inner shape of me that even I could barely face but that Gabriel had always seemed to reach for, to touch, to want to understand. There was pleasure in the way Osvaldo touched me, the way he wrapped my legs around his neck like rope, the way his sex quickened its pace from sheer enthusiasm, but the pleasure seemed to belong to someone else, a girl who had taken my body for the night and whom I scarcely recognized. Afterward, I lay naked beneath him in the dim light and thought, now, Perla, you’ve got what you want, freedom from exposure, a self so well hidden it cannot be found. I should have felt relief or at least some scrap of triumph, but I only felt terribly alone.

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Reading Group Guide

The questions, discussion topics, and reading list that follow are intended to enhance your reading group’s discussion of Perla, Carolina De Robertis’s intimate, unforgettable portrait of one young woman’s explosive search for truth.

1. Why do you think the author paired a quote from Moby-Dick with one from the former commander of the Argentine army for her epigraph?

2. What do you think inspired twelve-year-old Perla to write a story that reflected badly on her own parents?

3. “I described my experience at Romina’s bookshelves, opening volume after volume as if opening the gates to textual cities. In those cities, among those words and meanings, I said, the true trajectory of my life began” (p. 77). How did Perla’s experience with those books shape her future? What role do words and ideas play in her life, and in the novel?

4. Several times in the novel, the notion of “two Perlas” comes up. What did that mean to you initially, and how did your understanding change by the end of the story?

5. On page 64, Perla thinks, “This was how it worked, wasn’t it? You don’t walk in the truth, you walk in the reality you want to inhabit, you walk in the reality you can stand. This is how realities are made.” What is the difference between truth and reality?

6. What did we learn from the story of the dead geraniums (chapter 5)?

7. On page 100, Héctor tells Perla, “It was war. It was a just war.” How did he and Luisa justify their behavior? Do you think they were really as comfortable with it as they seemed?

8. Perla calls herself a coward more than once in the novel, until Gabriel finally insists she’s brave. In what ways is each of them right?

9. “I did not want to erase the person that I’d been all these years when I did not know where I came from. However false my identity might be, it was the only one I had. Without it I was nothing” (page 201). Why does Perla feel this way? Ultimately, what changes her thinking?

10. Throughout the book, De Robertis uses water imagery. What is the significance when Perla drenches the home she grew up in (p. 216)?

11. Why does the painting by Perla’s aunt survive the destruction?

12. Most of the novel alternates between two points of view: Perla’s and her birth father’s. Why does De Robertis switch to Héctor’s point of view for chapter 13, “Homecoming”?

13. Why do you think Héctor never comes after Perla? What do you think he would say to her if he did?

14. Why do you think the novel ends with Perla meeting her birth families?

15. Was the visitor real?

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4
( 9 )
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Sort by: Showing all of 9 Customer Reviews
  • Posted June 28, 2012

    more from this reviewer

    Long Term Affects of War

    Perla by Car­olina De Rober­tis is a his­tor­i­cal fic­tion book about Argentina’s Dirty War. The author is a daugh­ter to Uruguayan par­ents, but her grand­par­ents were Argen­tineans in exile.

    Perla, a young woman and a uni­ver­sity stu­dent, seeks to find answers. The tra­di­tion in her fam­ily is to not to ask ques­tions, espe­cially about her father’s activ­i­ties dur­ing the time known as Argentina’s Dirty War. As Perla grows up, she sep­a­rates her fam­ily life from her per­sonal life.

    One day, after Perla arrives home she finds a strange man in her liv­ing room. The man is soaked and oozes water all the time, sur­pris­ing even her­self, Perla reacts to this “vision” by giv­ing him food and shel­ter only to real­ize that he is one of the “dis­ap­peared”, a vic­tim of the Dirty War, and might hold the key to her past.

    I very much enjoyed The Invis­i­ble Moun­tain (my thoughts) and when I got the email to ask if I’d like to join the tour for Car­olina De Rober­tis’ Perla I jumped at the oppor­tu­nity. The novel has many aspects one could see it from it is a com­ing of age story, his­tor­i­cal lit­er­a­ture and super­nat­ural aspects so promi­nent in Latin literature.

    One thing is for cer­tain, Ms. De Rober­tis (web­site | Face­book |Twit­ter) can write, Perla is a beau­ti­ful novel about an ugly sit­u­a­tion. Even the parts about the hor­ren­dous acts the Argen­tinean gov­ern­ment com­mit­ted against its own peo­ple are beau­ti­fully written.

    “The day the black boots came for him was a pretty day, with bright blue slices of sky between the buildings”.

    As in many of the books I read, espe­cially about World War II, I always pon­der what makes good peo­ple do bad things?
    Could it be the herd men­tal­ity?
    The firm belief that you are actu­ally keep­ing the coun­try together?
    That you are the “good guys” in the story?

    This type of ques­tions are a part of the story which the author tack­les. Ms. De Rober­tis tell her tale focus­ing on the long term affects of the war blend­ing his­tory, fic­tion, shame, honor and magic in an engrossing yarn. The author offers just enough con­text within the story to appre­ci­ate the his­tory which the story revolves around, while cer­tainly not a defin­i­tive his­tor­i­cal book, it is not meant to be as such, but sim­ply wets the apatite to read some more.

    Perla is an ele­gant, poetic and decep­tively sim­ple book which tells of a young woman com­ing to grip with her own his­tory at the time Argentina comes to grip with its own past.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 9, 2012

    I enjoyed this book very much! While coming home from a pleasur

    I enjoyed this book very much! While coming home from a pleasurable trip to Buenos Aires I read a review of Perla In "Oprah" Magazine while on the plane. I was intrigued because I had just heard about the horrible events that took place in the '70's and had visited some of the sites that are living memorials to all the people who disappeared during that terrible era. The author kept me intrigued throughout the book, and also a bit apprehensive, knowing that this is based on real events. I enjoyed the author's mixture of realism with some possible fantasy and the ending was extremely rewarding. Whether you've visited this city or not the story is of the resilient people of Argentina is worth knowing.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted April 14, 2012

    more from this reviewer

    Don't Miss This One

    This book is amazing! I loved Carolina de Robertis' first book, Invisible Mountain, so I was already a fan. But Perla is so beautiful, disturbing and thought provoking all at the same time. I love her style of writing, very lyrical with a touch of magical realism. I had never read about 'the disappeared' of Argentina, so I don't have anything to compare it to, but Carolina has brought it to life in a strong, poingnant way. This book is not for the faint of heart, but so worth it!

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted March 24, 2013

    Perla revolves around the Argentina's Dirty War, during which th

    Perla revolves around the Argentina's Dirty War, during which the government sponsored the taking of of over 30,000 people, the "los desaparecidos" (The Disappeared), in the guise of purging political subversives.  Now the war is over and the dictator has been toppled.  Perla doesn't completely understand her history, but she has always known that she is different because her father is a Navy officer.  She goes through life hiding the identity of her family for fear of recrimination.  Perla is the listener because being anyone else might inadvertently give someone a glimpse into her life.  But when forced to think of the past, her life shifts and she no longer knows who she is anymore.

    I absolutely loved this book but have no idea how to describe why (I hate when that happens!!!).  Perla's story is unfolded in snapshots of time through different perspectives.  I loved that I felt like I was experiencing Perla's anguish, confusion, and coming-of-age with her rather than observing it from a far.  This story is lyrical and dramatic with much heartbreak.  At times the graphic scenes were like a slap in the face, but they were like snapshots so they quickly passed.  The writing made me feel emotionally connected to the story, though I didn't find myself connected to Perla.  

    Though not a light-hearted read, I flew through the pages reveling in each disclosure that allowed me to put pieces of the puzzle together.  I feel like this is a story that I will never forget and would recommend it to those who find themselves in the mood for a meaningful emotional read with complex characters.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 29, 2012

    Loved this story!

    I liked this story, somewhat historical fiction, some mystical elements. I am on an international- historic-fiction kick this year that features strong female characters. I like a book that grabs me emotionally without being sappy. This book is not getting the recognition it deserves! I would also reccomend the Dovekeepers and Virgins of Paradise, both satisfying reads from this genre I am in love with.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 5, 2012

    Highly Recommended

    I was a freshmen in college during this time in history and I was not focusing on world events then. I was so moved that it lead me to do some research on the time.I loved the story and at times I felt like I was reading poetry.I also liked how the arthur did not choose to be too abstract for the ending because it made it a softer peacefull ending.

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  • Posted May 23, 2012

    more from this reviewer


    Carolina De Robertis has created a fantastic drama of finding oneself, and life during a terrible time. I chose to review this book because of Perla's father.....he was a Navy man, and so was my father, so I love reading books that involve the Navy, for it brings me back to my childhood. Born in 1981, two years before the "Dirty War" ended, I never really knew of or heard about the Dirty War before now. But, that did not stop me from falling in love with this story. Perla's father was a Navy Officer, one she is learning was involved in the "disappearance" of many people. A man that was responsible for killing so many civilians and ruining families. When this book started out, I was honestly not sure what to expect, for Perla has found a man in her living room and he's dripping wet, as if he just came out of the water. He's not just any many though. He's a ghost and one that will change her life forever. When this man appears, Perla begins digging deeper into the events of the Dirty War and the disappearances. What she finds is not at all what she was expecting. What she finds is something more life changing than anything could ever be. I definitely recommend this book with the highest of 5 Books. It's worthy of so much more, but that's the highest I can rate it. I fell in love with the entirety of this story, from Perla to her Naval Officer father (yes, though he was involved with murder, he was a big defining aspect of the story.....). This story gripped me so thoroughly, and held me til the last page, that by the end, I was heartbroken. I didn't want to let Perla go, and I wanted to hang on to the author's writing for just a little bit longer. A perfect combination of truth, suspense, forgiveness and finding oneself, this book is absolutely mind-blowing! I can tell you that this a book that will be forever on my bookshelf to turn to again and again. Well done, Ms. De Robertis, and I can't wait for another fantastically written novel from you!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 15, 2013

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Anonymous

    Posted March 29, 2013

    No text was provided for this review.

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