Friday, October 21, 2016

Book 47: Chasing The Sun

"Andres always speaks last; Marabela has never cared for last words because her power lies in silence."

Dates read: April 30-May 2, 2016

Rating: 6/10

During my second year of law school, the house I lived in was broken into. It wasn't the first bad thing to happen while I lived there; I actually grew to think of that house as cursed. But besides the break-in, those are stories for another day. It happened on a weekday night, sometime between about 7 and 10. My then-roommate and I were both at a party. They got in by breaking our bathroom window: a quick grab of our electronics (including, in what to this day still infuriates me, my external hard drive) and out. The things were mostly replaceable (except my digital music and photo collections), but my sense of security in that home was gone forever. The knowledge that someone had been in there, rifling through our things, set me on edge every day until the one I moved out.

And knowing how scary and violative it felt to have my house burglarized when I wasn't even there, I can't even fathom how it must feel to be kidnapped. Which it would seem was a real risk for the upper class, particularly women, in mid-1990s Peru. In Natalia Sylvester's Chasing The Sun, Andres and Marabela Jimenez would seem to have it pretty darn good: they're wealthy (Andres owns his own company), have a nice house in Lima City, been married a long time, and have two great kids. But of course, things are not as they seem. Marabela recently walked out on Andres, and although she returned, their marriage is cracking and they're circling each other warily. So when she doesn't return one night after running some errands, Andres assumes what he thinks is the worst: she's left him again.

It turns out to be much, much worse than that: he gets a ransom note from her kidnappers demanding a sum he can't possibly produce to ensure her safe return. Andres is forced to reach out to his long-estranged mother for help. She connects him with a man who negotiates with kidnappers for a fact, this man recently helped secure the release of Andres' first love, Elena, the woman he (and his parents) had always expected him to marry. While the plot progresses forward through the negotiations to get Marabela back and Andres' reconnection with Elena when he finds out she's in a mental hospital to deal with the fallout from her own abduction, it also looks backwards to show the reader the relationships between Andres, Elena, and Marabela, and how things got to where they were right before Marabela was kidnapped.

This is an enjoyable, if not especially substantial, book. The subject matter is a little too heavy for a beach read, but otherwise about that level: good but not great, decently-written but not special, compelling enough to keep your attention but can easily be put down. The plot moves along at a nice clip and doesn't drag, characters aren't flat but aren't deep and rich, either. The ending ties its loose strings into knots too easily, but not in a way that's infuriating, just kind of annoying (I wish there'd been a little more ambiguity left in it). I liked reading it, but it didn't make much of an impact on me. This is worth a read, but isn't unmissable.

Tell me, blog friends...have you ever lived in a place that felt like it was cursed?

One year ago, I was reading: Through the Language Glass


  1. I felt the same way about this book...I read it a couple years ago (maybe? I'm actually not sure how long ago) and really can't remember much about it.

    And - my house was broken into when I was a senior in college. While we were home. We moved out the next day. Totally understand your sense of security being invaded.

    1. If I didn't track my reading, I'm pretty sure I would totally forget I read it at all. I've not had great luck with Kindle First books, which I'm pretty sure this one was. They're mostly okay but nothing special.

      Our landlord put in an alarm system after the break-in, but it didn't really help, I still was nervous whenever I was home by myself at night. And you were home when the break-in happened? That's just awful!

  2. If I were 40 years younger, I'd add this to my TBR list since I haven't read a lot set in Peru. But now that I'm running out of time, I want to make my reading count. Thank you both for the 'caution'.

    1. I'm sure there is better lit set in Peru!