Hey Book Lovers!
Today I’m trying something new and doing a Mini Review and Recommendation. I thought I would do this for the books I have read linked to my University Course as then I won’t go into too much detail and end up accidentally plagiarising myself should I use them for any essays. My essays are entered online and then they are scanned by that system to check if they plagiarise any websites, at the end they offer a similarity rating and show what is similar to what website.
First up is Prayer For The Stolen by Jennifer Clement.
Ladydi Garcia Martínez is fierce, funny and smart. She was born into a world where being a girl is a dangerous thing. In the mountains of Guerrero, Mexico, women must fend for themselves, as their men have left to seek opportunities elsewhere. Here in the shadow of the drug war, bodies turn up on the outskirts of the village to be taken back to the earth by scorpions and snakes. School is held sporadically, when a volunteer can be coerced away from the big city for a semester. In Guerrero the drug lords are kings, and mothers disguise their daughters as sons, or when that fails they “make them ugly” – cropping their hair, blackening their teeth- anything to protect them from the rapacious grasp of the cartels. And when the black SUVs roll through town, Ladydi and her friends burrow into holes in their backyards like animals, tucked safely out of sight.
While her mother waits in vain for her husband’s return, Ladydi and her friends dream of a future that holds more promise than mere survival, finding humor, solidarity and fun in the face of so much tragedy. When Ladydi is offered work as a nanny for a wealthy family in Acapulco, she seizes the chance, and finds her first taste of love with a young caretaker there. But when a local murder tied to the cartel implicates a friend, Ladydi’s future takes a dark turn. Despite the odds against her, this spirited heroine’s resilience and resolve bring hope to otherwise heartbreaking conditions.
I picked up Prayers For The Stolen when I was writing an essay on ‘Women in Mexico and along the U.S. – Mexico Border.’ 2017 was the year I learnt for the first time about the Femicides in Mexico, up until this point I had never heard of them as they are never talked about in our news. Did you know 7 women and girls go missing in Mexico everyday, out of those seven some of their bodies will be recovered showing they were raped and murdered, the others remain lost. The figure is hazy because many are unreported but there are reports of 5,000 women going missing since 1993, the figures of deaths are also in their thousands but only 1% of these are investigated.
I was astounded to learn of the figures and I decided I wanted to focus my essay on this topic therefore I started to look for other books. Prayers For The Stolen is one recommended by many including Roxanne Gay.
Having already done a ton of research on the topic of Femicides, the treatment of Women and Mexico as a whole. I found Prayers For The Stolen to be a remarkable piece of fiction which could very nearly be non-fiction. Jennifer Clement’s writing mirrors so many of the stories I have previously read.
The narrative voice follows Ladydi and it is unforgettable. The story consists of many journey’s but the one which has stuck with me the most is how Ladydi’s mother often attempts as, all mothers do in this area to make their daughter’s ugly so that the narcos don’t take her. The mothers also make sure to dig a hole in their gardens for their daughters to run and hide in when they hear the 4×4 wheels screeching closeby.
“As a child my mother used to dress me up as a boy and call me Boy. I told everyone a boy was born, she said. If I were a girl then I would be stolen. All the drug traffickers had to do was hear there was a pretty girl around and they’d sweep onto our lands in black Escalades and carry the girl off.”
Prayers For The Stolen depicts a Mexico which is controlled by the Drug Cartels, many women and children are often stolen for human trafficking or for the personal use of the leaders/men in charge. The story also depicts how Ladydi’s friend Paula was once taken but was released by her captors and able to return home however she is clearly broken and hollow inside. Paula’s experience and story slowly unravels as the story carries on.
There are numerous injustices to women in this book, from trafficking, to the illegal crop sprays which cover women, children and animals in pesticides for the poppy fields to grow. They are poisoned both literally and through the injustice that is their society and finally towards the end of this book we see the injustice of the prison system to these women.
Whilst it is a work of fiction, Prayers For The Stolen is also a close reality for many women and girls in Mexico today and it offers so many different injustices for women. The kidnappings linked to Femicides is something which is shown and something I think not many people know about as I didn’t but it is such an important topic which needs to be talked about.
This book is also really easy to get into and you will find you can’t put it down. If you have not heard about Femicides before then I might suggest watching a small documentary which can be found on YouTube or perhaps reading articles such as The Denver Posts; Mexico’s Largest State Rocked by Slayings of Women.
I cannot recommend this book enough to you to try. When you read about the injustice faced by women and how they are very often failed by the police then you will feel as impassioned as I do to find out more. Remember only 1% of those girls which are found murdered or go missing are investigated.
Let me know in the comments below if you have heard of the Femicides before and if you have read this book?
Are you adding this to your TBR?