Title/Author: Fruit of the Drunken Tree by Ingrid Rojas Contreras
Publisher: Doubleday Books
In a nutshell (Publisher):
Seven-year-old Chula and her older sister Cassandra enjoy carefree lives thanks to their gated community in Bogotá, but the threat of kidnappings, car bombs, and assassinations hover just outside the neighborhood walls, where the godlike drug lord Pablo Escobar continues to elude authorities and capture the attention of the nation.
When their mother hires Petrona, a live-in-maid from the city’s guerrilla-occupied slum, Chula makes it her mission to understand Petrona’s mysterious ways. But Petrona’s unusual behavior belies more than shyness. She is a young woman crumbling under the burden of providing for her family as the rip tide of first love pulls her in the opposite direction. As both girls’ families scramble to maintain stability amidst the rapidly escalating conflict, Petrona and Chula find themselves entangled in a web of secrecy that will force them both to choose between sacrifice and betrayal.
Inspired by the author’s own life, and told through the alternating perspectives of the willful Chula and the achingly hopeful Petrona, Fruit of the Drunken Tree contrasts two very different, but inextricably linked coming-of-age stories. In lush prose, Rojas Contreras has written a powerful testament to the impossible choices women are often forced to make in the face of violence and the unexpected connections that can blossom out of desperation.
Verdict: Read it. NOW.
This book totally lived up to the hype. Got this as a birthday gift from a book loving friend. Thank you so so much, Soubhi! xoxo
Chula and Petrona met when Chula was 7 and Petrona 13, when Petrona was hired as a live-in-maid. Their backgrounds was different as night and day. Chula lived in a gated community, outside of Bogota, Colombia, while Petrona lived in the invasiones they called the Hills, a guerrilla-occupied slum. Petrona had mouths to feed at the tender age of 13, while Chula was born with a silver spoon. People of the Hills worshipped Escobar. Chula’s family favored the liberals who wanted to end corruption and drugs.
Despite their differences, Chula was drawn to Petrona and offered Petrona her friendship and loyalty unconditionally. She did whatever she could to protect her friend until one day, when their trust and friendship was tested.
This is a beautifully-written coming-of-age novel based on the author’s real life story. It’s tender, real, raw, powerful and absorbing. The intricately rendered characters will draw you in to their lives and stories like a moth to a flame.
See Colombia through the eyes of Chula and Petrona in the times of Pablo Escobar, as they find love and friendship amid loss and tragedy, live their lives surrounded by threats of kidnappings and bombings while still trying to be kids doing kids stuff, and naively trusting those around them, which ultimately exposed them to danger that is beyond their comprehension.
What will they do to make up for their mistakes? Will they risk their lives and their families for the sake of their friendship? Or will they turn their backs on each other to save their own skin? And how do they deal with loss and death at such a young age? How were they able to witness war and survive it?
The characters in this novel had so much heart. I fell in love with all of them, even those who played minor roles like Isa and Lala. Chula especially, pulled at my heart strings. I LOVE CHULA; how loyal she was to Petrona, how much she loved her dad and the cows who lived across her, and how wise she was beyond her age.
The females portrayed in this story were free of stereotype, from Chula’s mother to her grandmother, even herself and her friends. They were tender and raw yet strong, resilient, independent, fearless, and the young ones were naive yet smart, adventurous, boisterous, unafraid, love games and playing pranks!
Before I end this review, I want to leave this quote that was at the end of the book, “Sometimes the less you know the more you live.” Do you agree with it? Please share with me your thoughts!
Do yourself a favor and pick this book up today and read it. Just read it. And be prepared to shed tears.
Have you read this book? If yes, what did you think? Did you enjoy it as much as I did? If you haven’t, do you intend to read it? Please comment below!
Last but not least, thank you for stopping by! And may the power of good books be with you always!