Prayers for the Stolen by Jennifer Clement, NOOK Book (eBook) | Barnes & Noble
Prayers for the Stolen

Prayers for the Stolen

3.8 8
by Jennifer Clement
     
 

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‘Now we make you ugly,’ my mother said. ‘The best thing you can be in Mexico is an ugly girl.’

On the mountainside in rural Mexico where Ladydi lives, being a girl is dangerous. Especially a pretty one. If the Narcos hear there is a pretty girl on the mountain, they steal her. So when the black SUVs roll into town, Ladydi and

Overview

‘Now we make you ugly,’ my mother said. ‘The best thing you can be in Mexico is an ugly girl.’

On the mountainside in rural Mexico where Ladydi lives, being a girl is dangerous. Especially a pretty one. If the Narcos hear there is a pretty girl on the mountain, they steal her. So when the black SUVs roll into town, Ladydi and her friends hide in the warren of holes scattered across the mountain, safely out of sight. Because the stolen girls don’t come back.

Ladydi is determined to get out, to find a life that offers more than just the struggle to survive. But she soon finds that the drug cartels have eyes everywhere, and the cities are no safer than the mountains.

Editorial Reviews

The New York Times Book Review - Francisco Goldman
Prayers for the Stolen is as harrowing as you would expect, but it's also beguiling, and even crazily enchanting. Clement is a poet…and she writes a poet's prose, spare and simple, creating her world through patterns of repeating and varied metaphors and images that blossom inside the reader like radiant poppies…Everything, including a glorious first love, seems to happen to Ladydi in the compact space of this novel, and Clement creates a cascade of episodes, counterpointed by returns to the past and a chorus of repeated refrains…Prayers for the Stolen also gives us words for what we haven't had words for before, like something translated from a dream in a secret language. The novel is an ebullient yet deeply stirring paean to its female characters' resiliency and capacity for loyalty, friendship, compassion and love, but also to the power of fiction and poetry to transform such a dark reality into a parallel one that can engage and move us.
Publishers Weekly
11/25/2013
The first novel from the American-born but Mexico-based Clement, president of PEN Mexico, to be published in the U.S. is an expose of the hideously dangerous lives girls lead in the Mexican state of Guerrero. Despite its social significance, the book doesn’t read like homework; Clement is more a poet than a documentarian, and the girls and women of the village she chronicles are complex individuals. Ladydi, named after Princess Diana, spends her childhood dressed as a boy, as do all the girls from her village, since they will otherwise be kidnapped and forced into prostitution or drug smuggling. Most of the men from Ladydi’s village left a long time ago. The community is shocked when one kidnapped girl—the transcendently beautiful, now near-catatonic Paula—manages to return. Ladydi, thinking to save herself from Paula’s fate, decides to accept an offer of work from Mike, her best friend Maria’s brother, as a nanny in Acapulco, where, as he tells her, “people are rich, rich, rich.” However, Ladydi soon discovers that in a corrupt system, any apparent opportunity comes with hidden traps. Clement treats the brutal material honestly but not sensationally, conveying the harshest moments secondhand rather than directly, and ultimately allows Ladydi to continue to hope. Agent: Claudia Ballard, WME Entertainment. (Feb.)
From the Publisher
An Irish Times Book of the Year
Finalist for the PEN/Faulkner Prize

“Beguiling, and even crazily enchanting… [Clement] writes a poet’s prose, spare and simple, creating her world through patterns of repeated and varied metaphors and images that blossom inside the reader like radiant poppies…Prayers for the Stolen gives us words for what we haven’t had words for before, like something translated from a dream in a secret language. The novel is an ebullient yet deeply stirring paean to its female characters’ resiliency and capacity for loyalty, friendship, compassion and love, but also to the power of fiction and poetry.”—Francisco Goldman, New York Times Book Review
 
"[A] beautiful, heart-rending novel...Fiercely observed comparisons of human and inanimate life form a continuing motif throughout the story...[Clement] achieves the formidable feat of smooth, clear English that pulses with an energy and sensibility that is convincingly Latin American… So compelling...Prayers for the Stolen is a powerful read.”—Wall Street Journal

“The author builds a powerful narrative whose images re-create an alarming reality that not everyone has dared to address but that everyone has definitely heard. Let's pray for spoons.”—El Paso Times

"The theme of Prayers for the Stolen is the wanton violence inflicted on women and the destruction of communities as a result of the drug trade in Mexico, but Clement's eye for the revealing detail, the simple poetry of her language and the visceral authenticity of her characters turn that deadening reality into a compelling, tragically beautiful novel."—Yann Martel, author of Life of Pi

“With Prayers for the Stolen, Jennifer Clement has cracked open, rewired, and madly reimagined the coming-of-age narrative through the eyes and mind of an ingenious and wise young woman.  This book is a glorious fever dream of honesty and love.” —Patrick Somerville, author of This Bright River

“Prayers for the Stolen is a magnificent story, filled with a wisdom so dense and ancient as to seem almost unbearable. One wants to turn away, but cannot. It’s a mesmerizing read, illustrative of the idea that even traces of beauty, deeply felt, can help carry a traveler through the harshest landscape, or the harshest life.” —Rick Bass, author of Why I Came West
 
“What can I say about this novel? That it’s extraordinary, electric, heartbreaking, profound? There aren’t enough adjectives to describe how moved I was by the story of Ladydi and her friends, of their tragic lives and quiet fortitude in spite of a world that conspires against them. Maybe it’s enough just to say this: Prayers for the Stolen is the best book I’ve read in years.” —Cristina Henríquez, author of The World in Half

"The most enchanting journey I’ve taken in a long, long time, and the most important. Prayers For The Stolen is a hand-guided tour through a ruthless true corner of our century, with characters so alive they will burrow into your heart. Stunningly written, magically detailed, you see, smell and taste the action on every page, feel every foible, and miss the candor of these funny, achingly human voices long after you put them down. As the heroine herself might say: not something to read but to lick off a plate." —DBC Pierre, Man Booker Prize-winning author of Vernon God Little

“Compelling...Just beautiful…Really, really beautiful.”—Diane Rehm, NPR

“Clement is more a poet than a documentarian, and the girls and women of the village she chronicles are complex individuals...Clement treats the brutal material honestly...and ultimately allows Ladydi to continue to hope.”Publishers Weekly

"Moving...Through a beautifully rendered poetic rhythm all her own, Clement tells a story of the often forgotten women who carry on through the drug wars...Prayers for the Stolen tells a complicated and layered story...It feels painfully real, with a dry wit and subtly inquisitive subtext that should leave American readers wondering what can be done."Kirkus Reviews


International Praise for Prayers for the Stolen

“Highly original…[Clement’s] prose is poetic in the true sense: precise as a scalpel, lyrical without being indulgent.” – The Guardian

“What a marvelous writer Clement is....[With] power in a prose that is simple and simply beguiling.” – The Scotsman

"Bold and innovative…The rich mixture of the outlandishly real and the hyperfabulistic has a certain superstitious power over the reader. Jennifer Clement employs poetry's ability to mirror thought… superbly drawn." —The Times Literary Supplement

“That is the triumph of Clement’s tone in the novel—she shows the black comedy in the details and the emergency in the broader picture...There is a chance that fiction can make a difference.”—Telegraph
 
“Beautifully written...Clement's prose is luminous and startlingly original. The sentences are spare and stripped back, but brilliantly manage to contain complex characters and intense emotional histories in a few vividly poetic words. Her portrayal of modern Mexico is heartbreaking; a dangerous and damaging environment for women, but her portrait of Ladydi and her refusal to be one of the lost girls is defiantly bold and bravely uncompromising”— Sunday Express
 
“Ladydi’s irreverent voice sings off the page and there are laughs to be had as she relates her mother’s drunken wisdom and seeks to find a way to live”— Metro
 
”Despite its violent premise, this is a darkly comic read with one of the funniest, most touching narrators in years, highlighting a very real issue in a remarkably fresh way. An inspiring story of female resilience”— Psychologies
 
“With Ladydi, Jennifer Clement has created a feisty teenage heroine who is an unforgettable character”— Good Housekeeping

Kirkus Reviews
2013-11-17
A young girl struggles to survive under the desolate but terrifying umbrella of the Mexican drug wars. It wouldn't be incorrect to call this a novel of collateral damage. We hear all the time about the executions and decapitations of the bloody wars in Mexico, not to mention the endless contest over immigration reform as desperate men cross the United States border daily, running either to or from something. But what happens to those poor souls left behind? That's the premise behind this spare, almost noir novel by Mexico-based American poet Clement (The Poison That Fascinates, 2008, etc.) that tells the story of 13-year-old Ladydi Garcia Martinez, who lives in a small village in southwestern Mexico. Her home is very much a woman's world, made so because all the men have either fled to the United States to start new families, been kidnapped to work for the cartels or been murdered. It's a world where mothers bruise, maim or disguise their daughters to prevent them from being kidnapped and sold as human chattel. Ladydi's drunken mother contemplates knocking out her teeth, while Ladydi and her friends scramble to conceal themselves in holes in the ground as convoys rumble in. Ladydi's friend Paula, kidnapped, returns with tales of girls burning themselves with cigarettes to mark their corpses. "If we're found dead someplace everyone will know we were stolen. It is our mark. My cigarette burns are a message," says Paula. "You do want people to know it's you. Otherwise how will our mothers find us?" Eventually, Ladydi escapes to become a nanny for a rich couple in Acapulco, but a baseless misunderstanding lands her in a women's prison, where Ladydi must rely on her fellow inmates to retain her last vestiges of hope. Some thematic elements recall Clement's 2002 novel A True Story Based on Lies, but overall, this is a much richer and more durable tale. A stark portrait of women abused or abandoned by every side in an awful conflict.

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780804138796
Publisher:
Crown/Archetype
Publication date:
02/11/2014
Sold by:
Random House
Format:
NOOK Book
Pages:
240
Sales rank:
88,987
File size:
3 MB

Meet the Author

Jennifer Clement is the author of multiple books, including Widow Basquiat. She was awarded the NEA Fellowship for Literature and the Sara Curry Humanitarian Award for Prayers for the Stolen. The president of PEN International, she currently lives in Mexico City.

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