What a roller coaster of emotions! One moment I was hating the characters, the next I was sympathizing with them, the next I was in love, and before I knew it was exasperated and then back in love. Crazy stuff!
Now, I feel the most important thing I need to point out is that this is a dark romance and that there are some serious **** TRIGGER ISSUES **** that may make some readers uncomfortable so read with caution.
The story, which was narrated in first POV by various characters, gave me that feeling of intense passion and angst. I think the author made a good job by portraying Lucian with so many emotional and character flaws, otherwise I wouldn’t have been able to overlook his numerous acts of possessiveness and cruelty, even after a very important truth is uncovered and he has no reason to keep acting that way. Adeline is the sweet and innocent girl that captures his attention in a way that no one thought possible. And when I say innocent, I really mean it, and for good reasons too. Odd thing was that it was hard for me to connect with and understand her character but I think that was because of everything that happened in her previous life and her current situation. I just couldn’t relate to her in any feasible way.
The story has a good pace and flow although I found the characters talking too much to themselves and at times I found their inner dialogue a bit repetitive. However one thing I liked a lot was that even though Adeline started as a victim, she never behaved as one and that made her a more realistic character.
On a side note, I was totally blindsided by what happened towards end and the cliffhanger. It’s a good thing we don’t have to wait too long how this story ends as the next installment will be out in only a couple of months.
I received this book from the author at no cost to me and I volunteered to read it; this is my honest opinion and given without any influence by the author or publisher.
This is a very well-written book, clear and evocative, and I particularly liked the early chapters, which evoke suburban childhood summers and follow the young protagonist through her first encounters with race. Sadly, the later part of the book didn’t jive as well for me, though the writing is equally good. The chapters are episodic to the point that it resembles a short story collection more than a novel (some of them appear to have been published independently), which I wasn’t expecting. It was also odd, given that this is presented as a semi-autobiographical work and people who meet the narrator identify her as black, to see a picture of the author – she looks vaguely southern European, perhaps Hispanic, and I struggled to reconcile that with a book about coming of age as an upper-middle-class African-American woman. (I realize that a portion of the author's heritage is African-American and she identifies as such, but that seems to me a vastly different experience from actually looking black.) At any rate, though it didn’t all quite come together for me in the way I expected, this is an elegantly-written and complex work with realistic, nuanced characters, certainly worth the relatively short time it takes to read.
This is an enjoyable tale of a boy growing up in Costa Rica in the 1910s and 1920s. It is mostly episodic, without an overarching plot, and Marcos spends most of his time misbehaving and causing trouble, so the Tom Sawyer comparison feels apt. The specific details of Marcos’s life feel real rather than drawn from fictional tropes, so I suspected the book was autobiographical even before learning from the brief autobiographical essay in the front that all the facts of Marcos’s life match Fallas’s.
It is a colorful and entertaining book, and it’s not your stereotypical Costa Rica: the boys, including Marcos, are quite violent, and at one point he runs off with the army when war with Panama is brewing. Marcos is a lively if sometimes exasperating character, though there’s little development of anyone else – we get to know his mother and uncle a bit, but the book’s autobiographical nature means his friends are represented by an ever-changing stream of boys who put in brief appearances, and few other characters register much. Toward the end we read more about Marcos’s schooling, which is interesting but not in the same way; there’s a lot of school politics and criticism of teachers for whom memorization is the highest form of learning. But the couple of episodes in which Marcos uses cruelty to animals to revenge himself on their owners were my least favorite.
Overall though, this is a fun book; Fallas seems to be one of those few authors who can write about childhood from the inside rather than imposing an adult viewpoint on the narrative. It’s a shame this book apparently has never been translated to English, as I suspect it could find a healthy readership.