SYNOPSIS: André is a listless Brazilian teenager and the son of a successful plastic surgeon who lives a life of wealth and privilege, shuttling between the hot sands of Ipanema beach and his family’s luxurious penthouse apartment. In 1985, when he is just sixteen, André’s mother is killed in a car accident. Clouded with grief, André, his younger brother Thiago, and his father travel with their domestic help to Belem, a jungle city on the mouth of the Amazon, where the intense heat of the rainforest only serves to heighten their volatile emotions. After they arrive back in Rio, André’s father loses himself in his work, while André spends his evenings in the family apartment with Luana, the beautiful daughter of the family’s maid.
Three decades later, and now a successful surgeon himself, André is a middle-aged father, living in London, and recently separated from his British wife. He drinks too much wine and is plagued by recurring dreams. One day he receives an unexpected letter from Luana, which begins to reveal the other side of their story, a story André has long repressed.
GENRE: Fiction, Brazil
RATING: ★★★☆☆/ 3 Stars
REVIEW: I was provided a free copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.
If ever there were a case of cover love, it’s this. Thankfully the cover accurately reflects the rich setting of the story as well as the sense of enchantment that the main character found himself under. However there were parts of the story that didn’t fully enchant me.
Sauma is definitely an author to keep an eye on. I loved the way she wrote and the feeling she could evoke with her descriptions. The heavy air of Brazil in Summer, the taste and smell of all the little things that make up a memory. These were the parts of the book that captured me and reeled me in. Even the stark contrasts of South America and England were fantastically executed.
The overall storyline however, didn’t enchant me quite as much. Perhaps it was just me but I didn’t find much mystery in the story. The twists and revelations were obvious and I found myself merely biding my time until my suppositions were confirmed. There are times when this doesn’t matter in a story because you are happy to follow the character, to be on their journey. But Andre isn’t a very likeable character, so it ends up being anticlimactic and a slight chore.
Don’t mistake me, Andre wasn’t really meant to be a likeable character. This book follows class and race distinctions in the 1980s of Brazil. Andre is the priveledged one, clueless and self-entitled. He's not really set up to be liked. It's more about the culture shock and getting an understanding of a specific point in time and place. And once again, the descriptions are fantastic, but the otherwise obviousness of the plot, left me wanting.
In the end, it was just an okay book. BUT I'll definitely be on the lookout for another Luiza Sauma book, because her skills as a writer are amazing.
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Review by The Literary Llama