Review: The Disappearance of Irene Dos Santos
Irene Dos Santos is the new girl in school and Lily has been assigned to show her around. The girls come from very different backgrounds. Irene’s family is wealthy and she is given lots of freedom by her stepfather and gunrunning mother. Her mother is rarely home and she doesn’t have much of a family life. Lily comes from a family that is closer to being middle class, leads a structured family life and is close to her mother. Despite their differences, the girls become best friends.
Irene is not the best influence on Lily and teaches her to French kiss when the girls are thirteen. When one of her teachers tells Lily’s mother, the girl’s friendship is severed and Lily is sent to a Catholic boarding school. The girls do manage to get together a few times through the years without their parents knowing about it.
A few years later, Lily is allowed to invite one friend on a family trip to the jungle. When she chooses Irene, her family reluctantly agrees. While on the trip, the girls go swimming in a lake but only Lily comes out. There is no trace of Irene anywhere, and Lily doesn’t seem to have any memory of the event.
Fifteen years later, as Lily is about to give birth, she discovers an old letter from Irene and hopes to discover what happened to her old friend.
Since The Disappearance of Irene Dos Santos by Margaret Mascarenhas is full of characters and is told in a non-linear fashion from different points of view, I had some trouble getting into it. The writing is beautiful and the underlying themes of Venezuelan myths and revolution are fascinating, though, so I was quickly reeled into the story. I would like to read more about Venezuela after reading this book. The ending of the book, however, left me wanting, and kept me from totally loving the book. I did enjoy it; I just didn’t love it. This book is full of symbolism and I’ll readily admit that I didn’t understand all of it.
I found this post about the creation of the cover (which I love) interesting.
Margaret Mascarehnas grew up in Venezuela. She is an American citizen of Goan origin and currently lives in Goa, India. She will be on Blog Talk Radio on Friday, June 26 at 11AM Eastern time.
Review copy provided by Hachette Books.