Prayers for the Stolen by Jennifer Clement is one of those books that is so perfectly written you never want it to end. This book had been in my TBR pile for a while, but when I saw Roxane Gay’s 4 star review on Goodreads it went to the top of the pile. I have to say, her review is so on point that I’m tempted to just copy it here, but I will resist that temptation and share my own reactions.
Prayers for the Stolen is the story of Ladydi Martinez who lives with her mother in the mountains of Guerrero, Mexico. There are only women in this little village which was cut off from other cities and towns years ago by the construction of a highway. Ladydi and her friends, Maria, Paula and Estephani, grow up in this isolated world. They are “disguised” as boys and hide in holes whenever a vehicle drives up the mountain because it is always someone looking to steal girls and when girls are stolen they never come back.
Life on the mountain is tough and the mothers struggle with the loss of their men, mostly due to immigration to the US, but also because of the thriving drug trade and gangs that rule this part of Mexico.
Clement does an excellent job of describing the lives of these woman, from the mundane to the life-changing moments. Eventually you learn why Ladydi was given that name and the long lasting implications of an affair. At times the chronology was difficult to follow as Ladydi jumped between being in the present to thinking of the past. But despite that, my heart ached for Ladydi, her friends and their mothers and all that they endured. At the end of the novel, I was hopeful for Ladydi, which is probably naive given the circumstances she faced.
If you want to read an expertly written novel which illuminates a world you probably know little about, I highly recommend Prayers for the Stolen.
If you want to read Roxane Gay’s review, you can find it here: https://www.goodreads.com/review/show/1345232724?book_show_action=true&from_review_page=1