Friday, 19 August 2016

Pierced By The Sun by Laura Esquivel

Pierced By The Sun by Laura Esquivel

First published in Spanish as A Lupita le gustaba planchar by Casa Del Libros in Mexico in 2015. English translation by Jordi Castells published by AmazonCrossing in 2016.

My first book for the Goodreads-Bookcrossing Decade Challenge 2016-17. Featured in Cover Characteristics: Eyes and WorldReads: Mexico

How I got this book:
Received a copy from the publisher, via NetGalley, in exchange for my honest review

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

'Lupita’s hard-knock life has gotten the better of her time and time again. A childhood robbed of innocence set off a chain of events that she still has not managed to control, no matter how hard she tries. Every time she thinks she has a handle on things, unexpected turns make her question everything, including herself.
When Lupita witnesses the murder of a local politician whom she greatly admires, the ghosts of her past resurface as she tries to cope with the present. She quickly falls back into her old self-destructive habits and becomes a target of Mexico’s corrupt political machine. As the powers that be kick into high gear to ensure the truth remains hidden, Lupita finds solace in the purity of indigenous traditions. While she learns how to live simply, like her ancestors, she comes to understand herself and rediscovers light within a dark life. And if there is hope for Lupita’s redemption, perhaps there is hope for Mexico.'

I enjoyed this Mexican take on the dysfunctional detective mystery novel and particularly the way Esquivel slowly reveals the life of our 'heroine', Lupita. A policewoman who witnesses a murder, her alcoholism is described in such knowing detail that I am sure Esquivel must have been close to someone who similarly suffered. At the same time, we explore the economic destruction of Mexico whose only significant industry appears to be drug production to satisfy northern gringo addicts. Against this squalor and despair, hope is ultimately revealed through revisiting the mysticism of ancient Mexico and I appreciated the factual asides briefly explaining aspects of Aztec deities and rituals. The dual storylines make for a surprisingly rich novella.

I liked the structure of beginning chapters with 'Lupita Liked ...' and using these character insights to advance the story. I felt I completely understood her and certainly could empathise with her struggles to heal both herself and her country. As a novella though, Pierced By The Sun does fall somewhat between two stools. I didn't experience the same degree of mysticism as I have in longer Latin American works, and it's not a standard fit for the crime genre either. I wonder if this is the cause of the truly awful reviews I found of the book? I was nearly put off reading it altogether, but am glad I did so because I was impressed by Esquivel's unique voice.

Etsy Find!
by Molly Jo Silhouette in
Texas, USA

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Search Literary Flits for more:
Books by Laura Esquivel / Crime novels / Books from Mexico

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