Thank you to Netgalley, Doubleday Books and Ingrid Rojas Contreras for the free e-book copy in exchange for a review.
Y’all. This is the year of stellar debut novels: What We Were Promised, Whiskey & Ribbons and now Fruit of the Drunken Tree.
I had been seeing a lot of buzz around bookstagram about this book and rest assured, it does live up to the hype.
This novel follows two perspectives: Chula, a young girl who comes from an affluent family and Petrona, a young teenager who is from a guerrilla-occupied slum of the same city. The novel takes place in Pablo Escobar-era Columbia.
Petrona becomes the Santiago’s (Chula’s family) housekeeper and Chula becomes fascinated by Petrona, wondering why she acts the way she does.
Without giving anything away, this is a great account of innocence in the face of difficult circumstances and a turbulent political climate. In some ways it reminded me of Room by Emma Donoghue in that Chula’s perspective is innocent while observing evil circumstances.
This is both a coming of age story and historical fiction. The author states at the end of the book that this novel is semi-autobiographical. I found myself researching many of the events and even the general era frequently, as I was previously unaware of the specific issues present in Columbia at this time.
I recommend this book to people who enjoy coming of age stories, historical fiction with a good helping of political turmoil and just if you’re looking to learn a bit more about an era you may be unfamiliar with.