Sunday, August 21, 2016

Completed: Prayers for the Stolen


Oh, jury duty. The only good thing I can say about it is that I knocked another of my ToB books off of the list while I was sitting around doing nothing all day.

I didn't do a preview post for this because I ended up turning it around so fast. However, this book does hold a weird place of honor for me: it's the last book that I ever bought without quotation marks! It was early 2014, and I read a review of the book that made me interested in reading it. It's set in Mexico and about the impact of the drug wars on young women in Mexico...and it just sounded great. I think I even tried to add it to my ToB pile in 2015, but it wasn't officially old enough, so I put it on hold for another year.

At some point right after I bought it, I picked it up and was so pissed that it doesn't have quotation marks that I just put it right down. And it was then that I promised myself that I would always check before buying.

I think I added it back to the 2016 list because it's SHORT (about 200 pages!) and I was so annoyed that I bought it that I felt compelled to finish it and just get it out of my life. Lol. One more thing about my review...I finished the book while at jury duty and then abandoned the book right there in the jury duty room when I was finished. So...this review brought to you courtesy of my memory with no actual quotes. Which seems sort of ironic and funny.

I must say, I really wanted to like this book more than I did, but it just didn't work for me. Yes, obviously, the lack of quotation marks bugged the shit out of me on every page; but ultimately, but the plot and characterization were just too thin for me. The story is about a young teenage girl, Ladydi [Like Lady Diana, her mother named her that as a sort of reminder to herself about how shitty men are.] and what it's like to grow up in a country where men are either gone in the USA or gone because they are members of drug gangs.

In the first section, Ladydi is a young teenager in her village, worried about her friend Paula who has been stolen and mysteriously returned. The women and girls remaining are at the mercy of the remaining men. The mothers try and hide their daughters, and Ladydi and her friends all have these pits in the backyard where they hide out when they hear SUVs coming---Remember Paula? She and her mother didn't hear the SUVs coming and there was no time to hide.

In the second section, Ladydi goes to the nearest big city, Acapulco, to work as a nanny for a wealthy family. But the family is gone and has been killed, so she mostly just hangs out with the housekeeper and sleeps with the gardner.

In the third section, Ladydi has been framed for murder and is a Mexican prison until her Mother comes for her. There, she finds out more details about a connection between the murdered family and her friend Paula.

I don't know. I actually want to blame Toni Morrison for my dislike of Prayers for the Stolen. Morrison is *the fucking master* of a kind of lyrical exploration of what it's like to be a woman in the face of great obstacles, where the link between what is known and unknown is so tenuous. I don't that Prayers for the Stolen was terrible (well. the lack of quotation marks is terrible. lol), it just didn't seem nearly as sophisticated, smart, insightful, lyrical, or beautiful as Beloved.   I know that's not fair! But it's how I felt. I guess I just want more magical realism, or more adherence to a plot that makes sense, but this just seemed to want it both ways. It was the part where she went to jail where the book really lost me---I didn't buy it as a plot twist and then I was just reading for it to be over. Ladydi was in jail because our author wanted her to be there, not because the narrative put her there in a convincing way. I'm not sure it makes sense, but whatever. This book was just thoroughly meh for me.

The good news--I'm now done with 7 of my 12, and I'm feeling like I'm in good shape for the back end of 2016.


1 comment:

  1. With the no quotation marks and reading this thing on the heels of Beloved, the truth is: this book really didn't stand a chance with you.

    Sometimes our reactions to/feelings about a book are just as much (or more!) about us and where we are as readers at that point than about the book itself.

    This is interesting, because we have talked about the whole "I am not the audience for this book" issue... I think that we have both used that argument ourselves (Night Manager) and been disappointed in others for using it (The Sellout), right?