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Fruit of the Drunken Tree

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In the vein of Isabel Allende and Gabriel Garcia Marquez, a mesmerizing debut set against the backdrop of the devastating violence of 1990's Colombia about a sheltered young girl and a teenage maid who strike an unlikely friendship that threatens to undo them both. The Santiago family lives in a gated community in Bogotá, safe from the political upheaval terrorizing the cou In the vein of Isabel Allende and Gabriel Garcia Marquez, a mesmerizing debut set against the backdrop of the devastating violence of 1990's Colombia about a sheltered young girl and a teenage maid who strike an unlikely friendship that threatens to undo them both. The Santiago family lives in a gated community in Bogotá, safe from the political upheaval terrorizing the country. Seven-year-old Chula and her older sister Cassandra enjoy carefree lives thanks to this protective bubble, but the threat of kidnappings, car bombs, and assassinations hover just outside the neighborhood walls, where the godlike drug lord Pablo Escobar continues to elude authorities and capture the attention of the nation. When their mother hires Petrona, a live-in-maid from the city's guerrilla-occupied slum, Chula makes it her mission to understand Petrona's mysterious ways. But Petrona's unusual behavior belies more than shyness. She is a young woman crumbling under the burden of providing for her family as the rip tide of first love pulls her in the opposite direction. As both girls' families scramble to maintain stability amidst the rapidly escalating conflict, Petrona and Chula find themselves entangled in a web of secrecy that will force them both to choose between sacrifice and betrayal. Inspired by the author's own life, and told through the alternating perspectives of the willful Chula and the achingly hopeful Petrona, Fruit of the Drunken Tree contrasts two very different, but inextricable coming-of-age stories. In lush prose, Rojas Contreras sheds light on the impossible choices women are often forced to make in the face of violence and the unexpected connections that can blossom out of desperation.


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In the vein of Isabel Allende and Gabriel Garcia Marquez, a mesmerizing debut set against the backdrop of the devastating violence of 1990's Colombia about a sheltered young girl and a teenage maid who strike an unlikely friendship that threatens to undo them both. The Santiago family lives in a gated community in Bogotá, safe from the political upheaval terrorizing the cou In the vein of Isabel Allende and Gabriel Garcia Marquez, a mesmerizing debut set against the backdrop of the devastating violence of 1990's Colombia about a sheltered young girl and a teenage maid who strike an unlikely friendship that threatens to undo them both. The Santiago family lives in a gated community in Bogotá, safe from the political upheaval terrorizing the country. Seven-year-old Chula and her older sister Cassandra enjoy carefree lives thanks to this protective bubble, but the threat of kidnappings, car bombs, and assassinations hover just outside the neighborhood walls, where the godlike drug lord Pablo Escobar continues to elude authorities and capture the attention of the nation. When their mother hires Petrona, a live-in-maid from the city's guerrilla-occupied slum, Chula makes it her mission to understand Petrona's mysterious ways. But Petrona's unusual behavior belies more than shyness. She is a young woman crumbling under the burden of providing for her family as the rip tide of first love pulls her in the opposite direction. As both girls' families scramble to maintain stability amidst the rapidly escalating conflict, Petrona and Chula find themselves entangled in a web of secrecy that will force them both to choose between sacrifice and betrayal. Inspired by the author's own life, and told through the alternating perspectives of the willful Chula and the achingly hopeful Petrona, Fruit of the Drunken Tree contrasts two very different, but inextricable coming-of-age stories. In lush prose, Rojas Contreras sheds light on the impossible choices women are often forced to make in the face of violence and the unexpected connections that can blossom out of desperation.

30 review for Fruit of the Drunken Tree

  1. 5 out of 5

    Jennifer ~ TarHeelReader

    4 stars to Fruit of the Drunken Tree! ⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ⭐ When I saw Fruit of the Drunken Tree compared to Isabel Allende and Gabriel Garcia Marquez, I knew it was a must-read for my list. Ingrid Rojas Contreras’ debut is set in Colombia in the 1990s. It is focused on the Santiago family living in Bogota in a gated community. Gates are necessary because of the extreme political unrest in the country at the time. While the children are insulated from the world, just outside those protective bars are kidnappi 4 stars to Fruit of the Drunken Tree! ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️ When I saw Fruit of the Drunken Tree compared to Isabel Allende and Gabriel Garcia Marquez, I knew it was a must-read for my list. Ingrid Rojas Contreras’ debut is set in Colombia in the 1990s. It is focused on the Santiago family living in Bogota in a gated community. Gates are necessary because of the extreme political unrest in the country at the time. While the children are insulated from the world, just outside those protective bars are kidnappings, bombings, and other violence, all at the hands and orders of a drug lord named Pablo Escobar. A new housekeeper, Petrona, is hired by the mother, Chula Santiago, and Petrona has been living in a guerrilla-occupied slum. Petrona is overburdened working to care for her family, while also being pulled by love to the “wrong side,” the dangerous side. Both Chula and Petrona’s families are seeking stability and safety in a time of outright upheaval and abject terror. The author was inspired by her own life in her writing of Fruit of the Drunken Tree. Rojas Contreras uses the voices of Chula and Petrona as her narrators to capture the essence of the disparities between their lives and their means to survive. Chula and Petrona will be forced to make incomprehensible choices in their desire to keep their families intact. Overall, Rojas Contreras’ writing is exquisite. The contrast between the beauty of the area and the horrific violence and turmoil is executed with sensitivity. Like I mentioned above, I was very much looking forward to reading this book, and it most certainly delivered in its storytelling. Thank you to Doubleday for the complimentary copy to review. All opinions are my own. The Fruit of the Drunken Tree will be published on July 31, 2018. My reviews can also be found on my blog: www.jennifertarheelreader.com

  2. 5 out of 5

    Jenny

    No matter who we are, what are race, religion, socio-economic background, we share some basic emotions and feelings. Fear, joy, love, jealousy, anger, sadness and hope are some of those emotions and feelings. What makes us different is our reaction to those feelings and the situations that brought about them. Ingrid Rojas Contreras's debut novel, "Fruit of the Drunken Tree," takes us to the South American country of Colombia during the extremely violent and turbulent 1990's when drug-lord, Pablo No matter who we are, what are race, religion, socio-economic background, we share some basic emotions and feelings. Fear, joy, love, jealousy, anger, sadness and hope are some of those emotions and feelings. What makes us different is our reaction to those feelings and the situations that brought about them. Ingrid Rojas Contreras's debut novel, "Fruit of the Drunken Tree," takes us to the South American country of Colombia during the extremely violent and turbulent 1990's when drug-lord, Pablo Escobar, instilled fear among the natives as well as the world. Drug kingpin Escobar was not the only threat Colombian residents had to live with. There were the communist guerrillas that were constantly trying to overthrow the government, kidnappings for ransom, other drug lords, smugglers, car hijacker bands, kidnappers that weren't guerillas, along with murders, robberies and so on. Some have described the nineties Colombia to the eighties Lebanon with all of the violence and corruption. Contreras introduces us to the Santiago family who live in a "gated" community in Bogota. Children that live inside the gates are insulated from then outside world of violence. They have a life filled with more joy than sorrow, more smiles than tears and more sense of normalcy than those living outside the gates. Fruit of the Drunken Tree is similar to the novel, "The Invention of Wings", as it is told from two perspectives. One is of young Chula Santiago, age seven, who lives with her sister, Cassandra, and parents inside "the gates." Chula is a very observant, inquisitive child. She watches and observes everyone. Some of her observations seem wise beyond her years. Chula's mother hires a new girl to be their maid. Thirteen year old Petrona, becomes the novels other storyteller. Petrona lives outside the gates in abject poverty and is the oldest girl in a family of nine children. She finds herself the breadwinner for the family. Petrona lives in a world of fear, death, poverty, rape, hunger and sadness. Contreras uses real events in this fictional tale. She is a fantastic storyteller and her ability to seamlessly switch perspectives is a work of art. Fruit of the Drunken Tree reminds me of standing in front of a great work of art trying to soak in every inch of it, knowing that you may have to go back again to get everything out of it. Just a footnote to this tale is that the author discloses in the afterword, parts of the novel were based on true events that happened in her own life. Some people shut down and never share traumatic events. Contreras not opens up, she gives us a book that will be read for years to come. I received an advance copy of this book from Netgalley. #Netgalley #FruitoftheDrunkenTree

  3. 4 out of 5

    Dorie ** Traveling Sister**

    *NOW AVAILABLE* First of all I think I’m in love with the cover of this book, what gorgeous color and pop this cover has! However the seeds from the “Drunken Tree” were used in making a very dangerous drug called “burundanga” used by many criminals in Bogota. “Victims who reported being drugged with burundanga woke up with no memory of sometimes assisting in the looting of their own apartments and bank accounts, opening their wallets and handing over everything, but that’s exactly what they had d *NOW AVAILABLE* First of all I think I’m in love with the cover of this book, what gorgeous color and pop this cover has! However the seeds from the “Drunken Tree” were used in making a very dangerous drug called “burundanga” used by many criminals in Bogota. “Victims who reported being drugged with burundanga woke up with no memory of sometimes assisting in the looting of their own apartments and bank accounts, opening their wallets and handing over everything, but that’s exactly what they had done”. So strong was the fruit of the Drunken Tree! This novel is told from two perspectives. One of a young girl, Chula, living an easy going life in a grand house outside of Bogota, Colombia. At the time of the story she is age seven with an older sister, Cassandra, age nine. The family live in a gated community because there is so much gang activity and crime outside the area. They are quite isolated and play together, go to school on a bus and only shop in the few stores near their home. The mother and wife in the story, Senora Santiago, was herself from a poor family but married a man who worked for an oil company. He was seldom home as he had to travel a great deal for his job. Mama was constantly trying to hire a live in maid for their home but they usually only lasted a few months. She felt it was her way of helping the less fortunate by trying to hire the girls from destitute families.Petrona was the newest maid she hired and is introduced at the beginning of the story. Petrona tells the novel from her perspective. She is a very poor girl age thirteen who is required to work to try to support her large family at home. Her mother has become somewhat ill and much is expected of Petrona. Her older brothers have already joined the guerillas with much shame brought to the family. Despite warnings from her own family and Senora Santiago she is taken in by the attentions of a drug dealer, Gorrion. In the beginning he is attentive and charming but it is soon obvious why he is interested in Petrona. I will leave you to discover the rest of this story of how many of the wealthy in Colombia got out and began to seek asylum in other countries including the United States. “The historical timeline between 1989 and 1994 was used sequentially, but time was compressed as the emotional timeline of the book required”. Pablo Escobar and his revolutionaries were coming into power and the police were corrupt. Sadly this isn’t the first story of a country held hostage by drug cartels or revolutionaries and it reminds me of a book I read quite some time ago titled “Waiting For Snow in Havana:Confessions of a Cuban Boy” by Carlo Eire. If you enjoyed this book you might want to look into that novel which was quite well written. At the end the author shares the fact that most of the story is indeed based on her own and her family’s life experiences. It is a very interesting footnote to the story. While I enjoyed this historical novel I did feel that it dragged a little in the middle and I would have enjoyed further development of characters. This is a debut novel and I look forward to more from this talented author. I received an ARC of this novel from the publisher through Edelweiss.

  4. 3 out of 5

    Brina

    Buddy read in group Reading for Pleasure, review to follow when buddy read over. 4 stars for story 3 stars for prose 3.5 stars overall

  5. 3 out of 5

    Patrice Hoffman

    Wow! What an incredibly moving and touching story. Fruit of the Drunken Tree by Ingrid Rojas Contreras delivers a vivid, profoundly engrossing coming of age story that is told through two young girls who couldn't be more different, yet, they share a connection that is unheard of given the circumstances Fruit of the Drunken Tree begins with the primary narrator, Chula, studying a photo of a young girl she once knew in Bogota. Chula and her family live a relatively comfortable life behind the walls Wow! What an incredibly moving and touching story. Fruit of the Drunken Tree by Ingrid Rojas Contreras delivers a vivid, profoundly engrossing coming of age story that is told through two young girls who couldn't be more different, yet, they share a connection that is unheard of given the circumstances Fruit of the Drunken Tree begins with the primary narrator, Chula, studying a photo of a young girl she once knew in Bogota. Chula and her family live a relatively comfortable life behind the walls and gates that protect them from the violence that ravages through Colombia. Chula recounts the time that Petrona, the other narrator, is hired to work in her home as a housekeeper. Petrona, although a little older than Chula, lives in a village that's been pillaged by the local guerillas. The burden of supporting her family rest on her young shoulders and it's heartbreaking. Actually... much of this story is heartbreaking. Although Contreras writing is poetic, I couldn't stop feeling anxious for both Petrona and Chula as they navigated through the circumstances of their lives. Chula, so naive, so wholesome, so loving resonates with the reader. Although the narrator is obviously an older her recounting a definitive time in her past, there's still an innocence that contrasts remarkably from the stories backdrop. Seriously Colombia was scary as fuck. Listen, I understand I'm not actually doing this read any justice with my layman's review. I can only say that I began reading this title not sure what to expect, nor sure I even wanted to commit to it. Before long, I couldn't tear myself away from Chula and Petrona's story. Both forced to make choices that would forever alter who they are. And to top it off, Ingrid Rojas Contreras discloses in the Afterword what parts of the novel were based on true events that happened in her life. And I couldn't help but kick myself for being just another dumb American who never once even considered learning more about Colombia. I just let it be the cocaine capital. I never once considered the people who lived in this hell. People who were forced to continue living even with the threat of kidnappings, or random bombings, the constant death, and with nobody trustworthy to run to since the police were as corrupt as the rapists or murderers. Fruit of the Drunken Tree is a worthwhile read that I enjoyed thoroughly. This coming of age story of two girls who dealt with the pieces of their lives. Some agreeable and others not so agreeable. These instances ultimately teach them that life goes on and what once was no longer can be. I recommend this book to anyone and everyone. Copy provided by Doubleday Books via Netgalley

  6. 3 out of 5

    Chrissie

    I do not like the writing found in this book. The prose, how a book is written and what characters say, is very important to me. I want a child to speak as a child does speak. A child and an adult have not the same vocabulary. Is a third grader going to say the following? "It was at that moment I realized how fragile life really is?" Not in my opinion. This is merely one example of many. A book’s credibility is tied to believable prose. A mismatch between the words and the age of the person speaki I do not like the writing found in this book. The prose, how a book is written and what characters say, is very important to me. I want a child to speak as a child does speak. A child and an adult have not the same vocabulary. Is a third grader going to say the following? "It was at that moment I realized how fragile life really is?" Not in my opinion. This is merely one example of many. A book’s credibility is tied to believable prose. A mismatch between the words and the age of the person speaking them is not the only problem with the writing. Generally speaking, words are not used as they should be used. There were sentences that left me confused. I have the impression that the author is not truly fluent in English. She was born and raised in Bogota, Colombia, and has received awards for her writing. It is only fair that I balance my criticism with mention of the praise she has received. Each author has their own manner of writing. This book emphasizes drama over factual, informative content. I prefer the latter over the former. I wanted to learn about the drug cartels in Colombia. This is why I picked up the book. A good book of historical fiction can in fact teach. Here, the plot is intended to excite rather than to inform. This is an additional reason why the book failed me. It could of course be exactly what you are looking for. Excitement, young adult love, which is thrown in too, and rebellious women, allowing one to classify it as a work of feminism, is a great mix for many. I rarely dump books. This I dump having completed more than half. Marisol Ramirez is the primary narrator of the audiobook. Her screeching I quite simply could not bear another minute of. Other times she whispers, making it impossible to hear the words said. She overdramatizes. PLEASE narrators, readers are capable of thinking and can figure out for themselves when an author’s words evoke suspense. Happiness and sadness can be determined from words and need not be played out for listeners in a cinematic fashion. I wish to state clearly that I rate the book and its narration separately. Both the book’s content and its narration I dislike. Both I have given one star. Several of us in a GR group chose to read and discuss this book. If you are interested in following our discussion, please look here: https://www.goodreads.com/topic/show/...

  7. 3 out of 5

    Mary

    This was a surprise. The blurb doesn’t really do this book justice. It’s not so much about the friendship of a girl and a teenage maid; it wasn’t a friendship, it was more of a desperate, awkward relationship under impossible circumstances. I flipped to the author’s note early on and realized that what I was reading was based on the true events of her growing up in Pablo Escobar’s Colombia, and things took on a more urgent slant. By the final third I was riveted and haunted, and I thought about This was a surprise. The blurb doesn’t really do this book justice. It’s not so much about the friendship of a girl and a teenage maid; it wasn’t a friendship, it was more of a desperate, awkward relationship under impossible circumstances. I flipped to the author’s note early on and realized that what I was reading was based on the true events of her growing up in Pablo Escobar’s Colombia, and things took on a more urgent slant. By the final third I was riveted and haunted, and I thought about how books like this – emotional, beautiful, distressing books like this – humble me, not that I especially need humbling – my own parents fled poverty, most of those I grew up around fled starvation, war, and certain death. “And some, I assume, are good people.” The destruction of a country, a generation, a girl and a teenaged maid was lingering and absolute. I finished this book 12 hours ago and still feel angry and hopeless - maybe an odd reaction to a sad, subtle, and gorgeously written novel. Maybe not.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Ella

    When I was young, I was frequently chastised for being "too sensitive." I wasn't a wimpy sort of kid; I just felt everything -- deeply. If I was happy, I was practically delirious. When I really felt something, I was frequently accused of being melodramatic. I truly was not trying to get attention. I was just a little different from my very tightly-wound family. I projected thoughts and feelings onto everything from animals to bedsheets. I remember the weighty impact certain realizations made on When I was young, I was frequently chastised for being "too sensitive." I wasn't a wimpy sort of kid; I just felt everything -- deeply. If I was happy, I was practically delirious. When I really felt something, I was frequently accused of being melodramatic. I truly was not trying to get attention. I was just a little different from my very tightly-wound family. I projected thoughts and feelings onto everything from animals to bedsheets. I remember the weighty impact certain realizations made on me when I became aware of them: the vast number of people in the world each living their own life of which I was completely unaware, the horror of being homeless, my cousin Katie who died in a household accident before I ever knew her and who still remains six dressed in a plastic halloween costume in my mind -- that's the picture I had seen. Maybe this is why the luminous story of Chula Santiago and her much-coveted friend, Petrona, resonates so deeply for me. Chula is a child who believes in ghosts and communicates her feelings to cows via impassioned "moo" sounds. She is also a girl who watches, listens and reads the adult world around her. Chula feels everything -- deeply. Despite being set in Bogotá during the Pablo Escobar saga, this book is not Narcos. It is a "normal" yet strange and magical childhood taking place amid extremely unusual circumstances. Two girls from two very different worlds form an unusual bond while the world around them shapes each in her own way. It takes us on a trip from exuberant child in Bogotá to a refugee shadow in East L.A. and shows us how need or suffering can bend and transform anyone. Despite all of that, this is no sad tale. The story opens when Chula's mother is looking for a new "girl" to serve as a maid in their middle-class Bogotá household. The maid, Petrona, is in actuality a 13 year old girl who has to work rather than go to school because her family has been through its own horrors as the result of the narco-war and now lives in a sort of shanty-town of pervasive poverty. As the oldest girl of nine children, Petrona has largely become maid and mother figure to her own family and now must become the breadwinner, which brings her to the Santiago household. Petrona is a mystery to Chula and her sister Cassandra, who hunt the neighborhood for the Lost Souls of Purgatory and play "ding-dong-ditch" all the while trying out the adult words that swim in their minds. They wonder if she is a poet, saint, witch or possibly under a spell. Passionate Chula is impressed with how little Petrona speaks and counts every syllable that comes from her mouth. She is a mystery in their otherwise conventional lives. Behind all the childrens' silliness is the very real war of Pablo Escobar with the Colombian and US governments. In Chula's voice Escobar is both a television star and an entirely inhuman monster, an ever-present source of questions and gossip who serves as an entrée into the grown-up world. The Santiagos work around Escobar's war in the most mundane ways. He is an unusual inconvenience for a family that wants to go to the mall or a movie until events and the news press their way into Chula's consciousness. The book overlays a story onto a real timeline of Colombia. True historical events happen in the fictional story. It's done with a deft grace and while it's not a history book, there are events in this book that even I, an American 'tween at the time, still remember. Real heart runs through all of the characters in this story. From the always-working Papá and his observation that the cows may have recently read Sartre to Mamá's advice on dealing with men and other beings to Petrona's thoughts and private worries and the two Santiago sisters who are strong-willed each in her own way. Eventually, after the Santiago family has welcomed Petrona as much as they ever will and Chula gets her wish of a real bond with Petrona, the country's horrors force their way through the Santiago's door and Chula is forced to begin to grow up -- differently, though correspondingly -- to the way Petrona had before the two ever met. Ingrid Rojas Contreras gives us a very authentic child's voice with laugh-aloud moments and devastating truths sometimes in the same sentence. Chula is haunted by images and events in the way only children can be -- simple and profound all at once. I've been asked not to quote, but I found this a welcome rendering of a fascinating girl that took me back to the magical kingdom of childhood. And then it dumped me, along with Chula and Petrona and all the other characters into the confusing world of adulthood with all its cloying tragedy, but we are all still alive. The novel deals deftly with class differences and the way having enough or far too little molds children. It does a commendable job at showing the way tragedy can morph a confident and spirited child into a anxious mute, squelching any room for passion or flights of fancy. The only thing I want now is to know what became of these two young women after the book ended. I do so wish I could quote the final sentence, uttered in Petrona's voice... My copy has so much highlighting noted as "beautiful" or that made me giggle at Chula's strong spirit, the highlights became useless. Fruit of the Drunken Tree broke my heart a hundred times and fully restored it almost every time. So good, though I've read it, I finished and immediately pre-ordered a hardback copy to keep for myself and read again. magical realism: 2 : a literary genre or style associated especially with Latin America that incorporates fantastic or mythical elements into otherwise realistic fiction (from Merriam Webster) The book isn't being marketed, at least in advanced reviews, as magical realism, and I don't really think it is. But since the story is told through the eyes of a child, and children live in their sometimes magical imaginations perhaps especially children raised in the Catholic religion, this broadly fits the category and would probably appeal to anyone who can immerse themselves fully in the world of a lusciously-written character on a page. Expected publication: July 31st 2018 by Doubleday I received an advanced reader's copy of Fruit of the Drunken Tree from NetGalley & Doubleday books and this is my honest review. Also published on my blog at http://mccrystle.blogspot.com/ and http://ellamc.booklikes.com/

  9. 5 out of 5

    Janelle

    Thank you so much Doubleday Books for providing my free copy of FRUIT OF THE DRUNKEN TREE by Ingrid Rojas Contreras - all opinions are my own. This is a gorgeous, heart-wrenching debut that I completely devoured. Set in Bogotá, Colombia, in the 1990’s, the story begins with seven-year-old Chula Santiago and the Santiago’s maid, thirteen-year-old Petrona Sánchez during the time of Pablo Escobar, guerrilla warfare, corruption, the imminent threat of violence, kidnappings, and car bombings. This is Thank you so much Doubleday Books for providing my free copy of FRUIT OF THE DRUNKEN TREE by Ingrid Rojas Contreras - all opinions are my own. This is a gorgeous, heart-wrenching debut that I completely devoured. Set in Bogotá, Colombia, in the 1990’s, the story begins with seven-year-old Chula Santiago and the Santiago’s maid, thirteen-year-old Petrona Sánchez during the time of Pablo Escobar, guerrilla warfare, corruption, the imminent threat of violence, kidnappings, and car bombings. This is a coming-of-age story about two young girls from two very different worlds with an incredible bond. Chula is sheltered and comes from a family of means while Petrona’s family suffers with extreme chaos and poverty. Chula and Petrona are two vibrant and captivating characters whose perspectives alternate throughout. Also, a very interesting fact is that the story is inspired by Contreras’ own life, so needless to say, I could not put this book down. Contreras writes with lush, poetic prose and brilliant authenticity. She captures Chula’s fear, imagination, bewilderment, and credulousness, all the while showing how Petrona is plagued with responsibility and the pressure of having to grow up way too fast. Although Chula is the primary narrator, reading from Petrona’s perspective adds a level of depth to the story that I enjoyed. The friendship between Chula and Petrona is compelling and propulsive, as their two experiences are very different and Chula’s cloistered point-of-view was almost painful to read. FRUIT OF THE DRUNKEN is an impressive, thought-provoking novel with vivid and descriptive language that kept me engaged until the very emotional end.

  10. 3 out of 5

    Lolly K Dandeneau

    via my blog: https://bookstalkerblog.wordpress.com/ "Mamá said Papá had to work far away because there were no jobs in Bogotá, but all I knew was sometimes we told Papá about things, and sometimes we didn’t." The Santiago’s lives behind a gated community may as well be a different world entirely from where their new, thirteen year old maid Petrona comes from. Despite their differences, or perhaps because of them, Chula is drawn into a friendship with her. Where Chula and her sister Cassandra spend via my blog: https://bookstalkerblog.wordpress.com/ "Mamá said Papá had to work far away because there were no jobs in Bogotá, but all I knew was sometimes we told Papá about things, and sometimes we didn’t." The Santiago’s lives behind a gated community may as well be a different world entirely from where their new, thirteen year old maid Petrona comes from. Despite their differences, or perhaps because of them, Chula is drawn into a friendship with her. Where Chula and her sister Cassandra spend their days full of mischief, harassing the local ‘witch’ and letting their wild imaginations run free, Petrona’s life is spent working for her poverty striken family, consumed with fears about her brothers and sister, all too aware of the drug lords that swallow young men, seducing the poor with food, televisions (even if they don’t work), and promises of power. The threat of danger, of death is nothing for a boy to fear when compared to the present suffering and humiliation of their circumstances. A hungry belly is a beast, a desire for respect and strength is a lure used to tempt the young into a life of crime. Petrona will protect her siblings, she must, even though she must sacrifice her youth, her happiness. Even if her brother spits at her, shames her. Kidnappings by guerrillas for ransom are a constant threat, everyone knows someone who has been kidnapped even Chula’s own sister nearly fell victim in her infancy to abduction. Chula’s Mamá extends help to that other world, similar to the place she herself hails from, by hiring young girls desperate to feed their families. She knows that not all can be trusted, however, that the ‘help’ is more often than not linked to criminal activity. Petrona surely won’t last, not with her silent ways, her fearful eyes. The sisters begin to watch her, like big game, but it’s Chula who wonders at the thoughts in Petrona’s head. Charmed by the mystery, could her silence be a ‘spell’, the youthful fancies of their minds makes for many antics through the novel, getting them into dangerous situations. The playfulness of their days makes the dreariness and shock of Petrona’s missing childhood freedoms that much more harsh. Watched over by an astute mistress, Petrona mustn’t fail, she needs every bit of her earnings to feed her family, to be the ‘head’ of the house that her brothers have failed at. Chula’s parents are rarely together, with her father away working hard. Mamá is a beautiful woman, one every man notices, a woman with her own needs and desires. A woman who runs the house differently when ‘Because Mamá grew up in an invasion she prided herself in being openly combative, so people who pretended to be weak disgusted her.’ Both parents are wrapped up in wars and politics that Chula is too young to understand, even if she finds herself interested, longing to be as informed and clever as her father. Petrona’s existence is nothing like theirs, she lives in a home made of garabge. The day her ‘bleeding’ came, her mother informed her she was to marry or go to work. Raised to be the little mama of the house, her life is surrounded by worn out women, broken people, those worse off driven to begging. Boys are meant to focus on an education, the girls are meant to support them with hard work. Some end up drug addicted or working for druglords, others dead. She knows she must work her fingers to the bone, be brave so the Santiagos keep her on as maid. Petrona’s family is interested in everything she has to confide about the wealth of the Santiagos from what they eat to the size of their home. Despite her promise to keep their hungry bellies fed, she knows it may not be enough to keep her little brother from the comforts that the encapotado (covered ones) can seduce him with. Violence and shame will come to her home, despite the sweat on her brow from her hard work. The Santiagos aren’t as immune to the threat of violence as they think, and it escalates. Mamá’s burning sage to ward off evil may not be enough to keep her girls safe nor will the tall retaining walls the government built to keep the rich safe from poor people like Petrona. Car bombs, the threat of Pablo Escobar, all of it is creeping closer and closer to the rich, proving it cannot be contained, escaped. Superstitions dominate Chula and Cassandra, belief that protection from witches and all evils of the world are possible but Petrona knows of no spells to afford her protection. Petrona’s desperation leads her to the flowers of the drunken tree; a wonderful tie to the title of the novel. Petrona’s state of despair after a loss makes her heart ripe for first love in the shape of a man named Gorrión. Is he salvation? Destruction? Her choices and entanglements lead to consequences that touch them all. Just what will a young woman do to crawl out of the slums, to attempt to conquer the pit of misery that has stolen so much from her. Where has hard work and loyalty gotten her? Two families have to find ways to survive as the extreme violence of Colombia escalates each day, but can they? Following Petrona was far more fascinating than Chula’s life, but that is the point. Chula is seduced herself by the mystery of the young maids existence. Petrona’s youth and innocence betrays her, but with limited choices how could she have done anything differently, how could have the wisdom to know what the cost will be? How could she know if she’ll be saved or find backs turned on her? Power struggles carry the novel, not just in politics and crime but within ones own family, within the class system. What is left when you start with nothing, everyone you love is taken from you? A beaten people, forced to bend to those who have everything. A place where hero and criminals are hard to tell apart for people who are suffering and everyone slowly disappearing. What is left when you had everything and are forced to abandon your home and country? Forced to start all over again, separated from your husband, with no idea if he is dead or alive. This is a unique novel that is a coming of age for two girls from completely different worlds. It is a story of survival, of upheaval. The novel crawls at times, but it’s interesting how everything that is happening is perceived in different ways not just between Chula and Petrona but between Chula, her sister and their mother. We don’t understand things the same way as the ‘grown ups’, certainly not the scope of danger. Nothing can return to what it once was, not even when the family is ‘together’, and Chula’s reaction to her father is genuine. I wish I could go into that more, even though it’s such a short part of the novel, it effected me as much as the horrors that occur for Petrona, but I don’t want to ruin the novel. The ending is as it should be, it isn’t seamless. There remains a lost feeling but it works for me. Publication Date: July 31, 2018 Doubleday Books

  11. 4 out of 5

    Karla Strand

    Ingrid Rojas Contreras was born and raised in Bogotá, Colombia, and this is where her remarkable debut novel, Fruit of the Drunken Tree, takes place. In a time when Pablo Escobar, infamous drug lord and head of one of the most dangerous criminal families in the world, was at the height of his power, seven year old Chula and her family enjoy relatively safe lives. That is until Chula’s curiosities about their new maid, Petrona, get the better of her. Petrona and Chula develop an unlikely and heart Ingrid Rojas Contreras was born and raised in Bogotá, Colombia, and this is where her remarkable debut novel, Fruit of the Drunken Tree, takes place. In a time when Pablo Escobar, infamous drug lord and head of one of the most dangerous criminal families in the world, was at the height of his power, seven year old Chula and her family enjoy relatively safe lives. That is until Chula’s curiosities about their new maid, Petrona, get the better of her. Petrona and Chula develop an unlikely and heartfelt friendship despite their differences. Chula lives with her sister and parents who enjoy carefree lives, aside from Chula’s father often traveling for work. But Petrona goes home to a very different world when she leaves the safety of working for Chula’s family. Petrona and her family live in a poor, guerrilla-held area of the city which is unprotected from the car bombs and kidnappings which occur more frequently as the story progresses. The differences between the lives of Petrona and Chula are stark; Petrona’s life is a mystery that Chula feels driven to uncover, despite the dangers. Their relationship is illustrative of the real challenges that inequalities in class and socioeconomic status can often pose. When I began reading this book, it was these differences in the main characters and their situations that most interested me. I knew there was more lurking just underneath the surface. I appreciated that Fruit of the Drunken Tree had me questioning: What makes a family? What can friendships overcome? What would I sacrifice for others? For safety? For love? As I read further, the layers of the book had me reflecting on the toll violence plays in societies in general, but especially on women and girls. Women are often forced to make impossible choices in times of war and violence; girls, in turn, carry incredible burdens of fear and responsibility much bigger than themselves. During the time the story takes place, violent conflict in Colombia had already been raging for decades. Right-wing paramilitaries began fighting against the existing left-wing revolutionary rebels; the drug trade and cartels, like the one led by Pablo Escobar, added another layer to an already deadly situation. Despite the seemingly safe existence that many middle- and upper-class Colombians lived at the time, the fighting was never far from the minds or realities of many. It is so compelling to me that Escobar, like many other larger-than-life men throughout history, was hated by some but still loved by others, even considered a Robin Hood-style savior. He was a magnetic yet terrifying figure who evaded capture for many years. Bottom line: Ingrid Rojas Contreras is just a fantastic storyteller. Her characters and the plot are fully and meticulously developed while the perspectives of the story switch seamlessly between Chula and Petrona. I felt invested in the characters, their lives, and their survival. This is one of Rojas Contreras’ true strengths. The result is a full, rich tapestry of authentic interactions and emotions both among the characters and with their reader. Fruit of the Drunken Tree is an outstanding debut; if you appreciate raw yet flavorful storytelling, robust storylines, or Latinx literature, I highly recommend it. Read the full review at http://www.karlajstrand.com/2018/08/0...

  12. 3 out of 5

    Tiffany PSquared

    "Mamá always said -- the life she knew was a last-minute tsunami that could sweep away fathers, money, good, and children." Chula and her family live in Bogatá in a nice home with all the standard comforts. Just a few miles away, their young housekeeper, Petrona, lives in a makeshift hut in the hills with the remnants of her large family and no comforts. But the thing that connects them all is the violence of the time and place in which they live. Car bombs, kidnappings, drought, and hours-long b "Mamá always said -- the life she knew was a last-minute tsunami that could sweep away fathers, money, good, and children." Chula and her family live in Bogatá in a nice home with all the standard comforts. Just a few miles away, their young housekeeper, Petrona, lives in a makeshift hut in the hills with the remnants of her large family and no comforts. But the thing that connects them all is the violence of the time and place in which they live. Car bombs, kidnappings, drought, and hours-long bans on electricity equalize them all in the country where the paramilitary, guerillas, and Pablo Escobar are constant threats to "normal" life. Ingrid Rojas Contreras writes an engaging fictional novel set in the late '80s through the early '90s based on actual events in her own life and countless others living in Colombia. The story is told in two perspectives: nine-year-old Chula and fifteen-year-old Petrona, both of which are laced with an ominous expectation of something terrible looming just over the horizon. Events loop through past and present sometimes in limited, unconnected ways - typical of a young girl with limited experience and understanding. The story is absorbing and suspenseful with characters I felt attached to even after the last word was read. *Many thanks to NetGalley, Doubleday, and the author for providing me the opportunity to read and review this book.*

  13. 4 out of 5

    Kelsey

    Set in Bogota, Colombia in the 1990s, Fruit of the Drunken Tree is an incredibly well crafted novel told mostly from the perspective of Chula, an upper middle class girl living a happy life with her older sister, mother, and father. Alternating with Chula is the perspective of Petrona, a poor girl from the Hills where Chula's mother was raised. Determined to help girls who were in that position, Chula's mother always hires poor girls to clean their house, and Petrona is the latest. Petrona's ent Set in Bogota, Colombia in the 1990s, Fruit of the Drunken Tree is an incredibly well crafted novel told mostly from the perspective of Chula, an upper middle class girl living a happy life with her older sister, mother, and father. Alternating with Chula is the perspective of Petrona, a poor girl from the Hills where Chula's mother was raised. Determined to help girls who were in that position, Chula's mother always hires poor girls to clean their house, and Petrona is the latest. Petrona's entrance into their lives sets forth a haunting turn of events, as for the first time, the turmoil of Colombia in the time of Pablo Escobar hits Chula's family. I was largely unfamiliar with Colombia during this time, and knew only passing details about Escobar, the paramilitary, and the guerrillas, but Contreras does an excellent job giving you just enough information to grasp what is happening without drowning out your emotions with facts. Part of this is because Contreras does an incredible job of writing from the perspective of a young girl like Chula. Her naivety, fear, confusion, and courage are illustrated so well, as is her love for Petrona, the awe of a young girl fascinated with an older one. Experiencing events from the viewpoint of a child was a key reason why the events and ramifications were so well balanced. I couldn't stop reading this book, and Chula's wry and sometimes painful perspective is a key reason why. Contreras also expertly contrasts the life of a middle class family with that of Petrona's, who is forced to work to support her family from the day she gets her period. The terrible things her family experiences, and the feeling of desperation they felt throughout were so well communicated. This is one of the best books I've read recently, and I cannot wait to tell everyone I know to read it. Thank you to Doubleday and NetGalley for the free advanced copy in exchange for an honest review.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Madeleine (Top Shelf Text)

    Review originally published at https://topshelftext.org/topshelftext.... Thank you to Doubleday Books for my free copy! All opinions are my own. I will admit, I was intimidated when picking up this book. It received high praise from early readers, and it was obviously heavy in content. Those two factors made for a lot of trepidation on my part, something I've been experiencing this year with all of the biggest releases. Sometimes, the hype for a book can overshadow the story. In this instance, Fr Review originally published at https://topshelftext.org/topshelftext.... Thank you to Doubleday Books for my free copy! All opinions are my own. I will admit, I was intimidated when picking up this book. It received high praise from early readers, and it was obviously heavy in content. Those two factors made for a lot of trepidation on my part, something I've been experiencing this year with all of the biggest releases. Sometimes, the hype for a book can overshadow the story. In this instance, Fruit of the Drunken Tree proved itself to be worthy of a top spot on my summer reading list. The story follows a family and their maid, living in Columbia at the height of drug lord Pablo Escobar's power. Told in alternating perspectives of the seven-year-old daughter and the maid, the reader witnesses firsthand the physical and emotional destruction of the various para-military groups. I won't go too far into detail, because I think the heavy subject requires an immersive reading experience, but I will point readers to the author's note. This novel belongs to the own voices category, meaning that the author wrote this having experienced something similar herself. Like many books with alternating perspectives, I was a bit more invested in one voice over the other. I wished that the chapters from the maid's perspective had been lengthier or more fleshed out -- hers was the story line I was most interested in. However, I saw the point that the author was making in keeping her somewhat removed and mysterious. The other perspective, that of a child, made for a more accessible reading experience on my end. As the child learned more about the political situation and came to realize the dangers threatening her family, I was able to orient myself so that I could follow along. Aside from having seen a few episodes of Narcos, I had very little background knowledge on this time period and on Columbian culture. Not only was this book raw and incredibly moving, it also taught me about the setting and piqued my interest for fiction set in South America.

  15. 3 out of 5

    Alejandra Rodriguez

    This book was equal parts heart wrenching and beautiful. The writing in this book has been compared to the writing of Gabriel Garcia Marquez, and I would absolutely agree with that comparison. My parents are Colombian and I have visited Colombia several times, although not recently. Her descriptions brought back so many memories for me and I was astonished by how wonderful her descriptions were. Despite my heritage, I am unfamiliar with Colombian history. I still found it easy to follow the plot This book was equal parts heart wrenching and beautiful. The writing in this book has been compared to the writing of Gabriel Garcia Marquez, and I would absolutely agree with that comparison. My parents are Colombian and I have visited Colombia several times, although not recently. Her descriptions brought back so many memories for me and I was astonished by how wonderful her descriptions were. Despite my heritage, I am unfamiliar with Colombian history. I still found it easy to follow the plot even though I wasn't entirely aware of the political environment. I found that not knowing made my understanding of the events similar to that of the young main character who is a child at the time of these events. My point is that whether or not you know about the events that took place at this time, this book is easy to follow and very informative. This is an exceptional piece of literature. I can't say enough good things about this book. Just read it.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Inside My Library Mind

    More reviews up on my blog Inside My Library Mind Actual rating: 2.5 stars A serious case of “It’s not you, it’s me”. I really loved the writing style. This is compared to Marquez and Allende and I can totally understand why. The author really knows how to construct a sentence and she really manages to create an atmosphere. I also loved how she used the backdrop of the narco war to bring forth and accentuate a story about two girls, who are very different, but who manage to find a certain kins More reviews up on my blog Inside My Library Mind Actual rating: 2.5 stars A serious case of “It’s not you, it’s me”. I really loved the writing style. This is compared to Marquez and Allende and I can totally understand why. The author really knows how to construct a sentence and she really manages to create an atmosphere. I also loved how she used the backdrop of the narco war to bring forth and accentuate a story about two girls, who are very different, but who manage to find a certain kinship. I truly think this is really well written and I can see it being loved by so many people. It’s also really lovely to see an own voices novel about Bogota, and especially Bogota during the Escobar and narco wars era. I really appreciated that and I am so glad that this book got published and I hope more people read it. However, this isn’t the book for me. I personally have a really hard time with historical fiction. And while this is really recent history, for me it reads like a World War II novel. It’s slow and focuses on the day to day life in awful circumstances and I really can’t stand that kind of story telling. It’s something that does not work for me at all. Moreover, this is told from the perspective of a 9 year old girl for the most part, and I can’t stand literary fiction from a child’s point of view. I can’t connect with the characters like that. I just don’t think that the writing style of literary fiction suits the voice of a child, if that makes sense. I felt disconnected from this story at all times, and I couldn’t really find anything in this to latch on to. For me, a beautiful writing style just isn’t enough. This really did not work for me, but I would still recommend this. I genuinely believe that if you like historical fiction, you would like this. It’s exceptionally well written, but just not written for me.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Creager

    With her father away at work, Chula lives with her sister, Cassandra and her mother in Bogota, Colombia in a kingdom of women. With the naïveté of childish wonder pimpled with desperation Chula comes of age amidst civil unrest, car bombs, first loves and news of The Guerrilla, fiend and hobgoblin, Pablo Escobar. When Petrona comes to serve as a maid in her house her presence enchants the imaginative Chula and her protection as they try to navigate the adult world.

  18. 3 out of 5

    Bethany

    Actual Rating: 4.5 stars Fruit of the Drunken Tree is a compelling and evocative coming-of-age story set in the violence and upheaval of 1990's Bogota Colombia. Rich with culture and metaphor, the story is told through the distinctive voices of a young girl and the teenage maid who works for her family. Woven through the narrative are strong themes of family, identity, and trauma. An impressive debut! Chula is 7 years old when the story begins. She is stubborn and curious, but has been sheltered a Actual Rating: 4.5 stars Fruit of the Drunken Tree is a compelling and evocative coming-of-age story set in the violence and upheaval of 1990's Bogota Colombia. Rich with culture and metaphor, the story is told through the distinctive voices of a young girl and the teenage maid who works for her family. Woven through the narrative are strong themes of family, identity, and trauma. An impressive debut! Chula is 7 years old when the story begins. She is stubborn and curious, but has been sheltered as much as possible by her comfortably wealthy family. She strikes up an unlikely friendship with Petrona, the new 13 year old maid. From the beginning the disparity in their lives is striking, with Petrona's family living in abject poverty. And yet, both girls face violence, political instability, and challenges in their families. They are drawn together even as their worlds become more chaotic and they are forced to make impossible decisions between allegiances. The bulk of the narrative is told through Chula's point of view and the author does a great job of interpreting difficult events and conflicts through the eyes of a child. Chula doesn't understand everything happening around her, but we see her comprehend and internalize a great deal. It's a peek into how children might experience traumatic events and how that trauma can shape their progression into adolescence. And we see that in multiple characters. Inspired by the author's life and including some real historical events, this was also a lesson in the realities of life and politics in Colombia that I was not fully aware of. It's beautifully told, emotionally impactful, and at times filled with trauma that is difficult to swallow. It is ultimately a hopeful story, but with serious reservations. Because not everything can be fixed and these experiences can leave permanent scars of many kinds. This is going to stick with me and I definitely recommend it. I'll be looking to see more from this debut author! Thank you to Doubleday for sending me an advance copy for review. All opinions are my own.

  19. 4 out of 5

    Mahi Senthilkumar

    I received this book from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. Chula grows up in a wealthy Colombian family, spending her days getting into trouble with her sister and marveling at her family's graceful but mysterious maid, Petrona. This story, brought to life by the magic and anxiety of Chula's imagination, starts of as the account of a quaint and innocent school girl. However, as Colombia gets embroiled in the chaos of Pablo Escobar's nefarious dealings and the violent crime of narcotics I received this book from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. Chula grows up in a wealthy Colombian family, spending her days getting into trouble with her sister and marveling at her family's graceful but mysterious maid, Petrona. This story, brought to life by the magic and anxiety of Chula's imagination, starts of as the account of a quaint and innocent school girl. However, as Colombia gets embroiled in the chaos of Pablo Escobar's nefarious dealings and the violent crime of narcotics traffickers, Chula's life seems to come apart at the seams. Even her adventurous older sister and her feminist matriarch of a mother seem unprepared for the trouble that enters their lives.  Contreras strikes a captivating balance by depicting endearing quirks of local culture while weaving in strands of the Colombian political narrative that any history junkie will recognize and enjoy following. Contreras spends equal time meticulously following a real historical timeline and deliberately smashing Colombian stereotypes. I found the beginning to be a touch slow, but as a tradeoff, each character has a deliciously complex personality. Additionally, though this is not canon, I interpreted Chula to be queer. As someone who thirsts for representation, it frustrated me to find no closure on that front, but I thought Contreras did an excellent job depicting Chula's struggles with anxiety and PTSD.  Flashing occasionally to the perspective of Petrona, whose family exists closer to the "front lines" of the drug war, Fruit of the Drunken Tree tells the story of women from varied backgrounds experiencing a similar struggle to be who their families need them to be. By the end of this novel, readers will be gripped by a dynamic story female bravery and will be touched by Chula's tender spirit that endures through it all.

  20. 4 out of 5

    Linda Barlow

    I want to give EVERYONE this book. This is a powerful and beautifully written book. In the tradition of masterful Latin American writers, this story conveys the history of Colombia in the early 1990’s, the time of FARC, Pablo Escobar, kidnappings and violence. It’s the story of families and relationships and how the political circumstances affected everyone. The story is told from the point of view of a little girl named Chula and the family’s maid Petrona. The impossible choices made and secrets I want to give EVERYONE this book. This is a powerful and beautifully written book. In the tradition of masterful Latin American writers, this story conveys the history of Colombia in the early 1990’s, the time of FARC, Pablo Escobar, kidnappings and violence. It’s the story of families and relationships and how the political circumstances affected everyone. The story is told from the point of view of a little girl named Chula and the family’s maid Petrona. The impossible choices made and secrets kept hurl the characters toward a horrific climax and change their lives forever. Much of the story is taken from the author’s experiences and those around her and is historically accurate. What an outstanding debut novel! It will resonate with me for a long time.

  21. 3 out of 5

    Lisa

    What a chilling, beautifully written unforgettable book about Columbia during the Escobar years! I have so many thoughts but need some time to digest them.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Lillian Li

    Fruit of the Drunken Tree made me cry at the airport. Until the moment my eyes filled with tears, though, I was impressed by so much else. For one, the small kingdom of women Conterars builds, with violence always threatening to snake in, all seen through Chula, the youngest daughter’s eyes. Contreras made the young girl’s perspective believably cloistered, while still masterfully writing all the people around Chula in ways that made them feel real (especially the mother character). Also masterf Fruit of the Drunken Tree made me cry at the airport. Until the moment my eyes filled with tears, though, I was impressed by so much else. For one, the small kingdom of women Conterars builds, with violence always threatening to snake in, all seen through Chula, the youngest daughter’s eyes. Contreras made the young girl’s perspective believably cloistered, while still masterfully writing all the people around Chula in ways that made them feel real (especially the mother character). Also masterful was the way the author used Petrona's narrative throughout, and the restraint she showed in dipping into Petrona’s thoughts—she always left me wanting more. What Contreras chooses not to write has as big an effect as what she does, and this novel is a dynamic exploration of what is known and what is left, sometimes willfully, unknown.

  23. 3 out of 5

    Cece

    Thank you to DoubleDay group Keep Turning Pages for a copy of this book. I had seen and heard a lot of good things about this book. This was a debut novel about a family’s experience with living under the drug lord days in the 1990s. The two main characters are young girls- Chula 7 years old from a middle class family. Their new maid Petrona who is just 13 from a poor family trying to help her family survive. They form an unseen friendship which will test many aspects of their lives. This was wr Thank you to DoubleDay group Keep Turning Pages for a copy of this book. I had seen and heard a lot of good things about this book. This was a debut novel about a family’s experience with living under the drug lord days in the 1990s. The two main characters are young girls- Chula 7 years old from a middle class family. Their new maid Petrona who is just 13 from a poor family trying to help her family survive. They form an unseen friendship which will test many aspects of their lives. This was written so eloquently and beautifully although the topic was at times devastating and gripping. Reading this pulls the curtains back to allow the reader to experience how many lives were affected during these horrid times.

  24. 4 out of 5

    Donna

    This story has a flair for the historical but it takes place in a more recent time. It is set in the 1990's in Colombia. I wasn't pulled in towards the beginning, but I eventually did get reeled in. I liked the different POVs and I also thought the relationships were done well (especially the mother daughter one). There were twists that came out of nowhere and seemed extreme but I liked how the author anchored them right down into the story. Plausibility was never a question. The ending spans a This story has a flair for the historical but it takes place in a more recent time. It is set in the 1990's in Colombia. I wasn't pulled in towards the beginning, but I eventually did get reeled in. I liked the different POVs and I also thought the relationships were done well (especially the mother daughter one). There were twists that came out of nowhere and seemed extreme but I liked how the author anchored them right down into the story. Plausibility was never a question. The ending spans a chunk of time and moves fast. While that isn't my favorite, I think it worked here. It helped wrap up the satisfying ending. So 4 stars.

  25. 3 out of 5

    Lorilin

    What a beautiful book. The story is so layered and the characters perfectly developed. I felt like I was right there with Chula and her family--through all the ups and downs. The book just has HEART, plain and simple. Fruit of the Drunken Tree is a powerhouse of a novel. I think it's going to be a hit with book clubs.

  26. 4 out of 5

    Darlene

    Though this story takes place in the 1990's in the times of drug lord Pablo Escobar in Bogotá, Colombia, it's lessons are current for us here in the USA. It centers on two young girls and how they affect each other and each others' families. I actually finished the book a couple days ago. I needed time to think about how to review this. Besides what I said above I just couldn't decide. If you want to know more about the book go read the reviews on GoodReads. Many just write out the story themselv Though this story takes place in the 1990's in the times of drug lord Pablo Escobar in Bogotá, Colombia, it's lessons are current for us here in the USA. It centers on two young girls and how they affect each other and each others' families. I actually finished the book a couple days ago. I needed time to think about how to review this. Besides what I said above I just couldn't decide. If you want to know more about the book go read the reviews on GoodReads. Many just write out the story themselves. Why bother with reading it with all that information? I don't like to include blurbs about the books I read. I figure there are plenty of those out there. My review is to tell future me what I thought and possible current events or life events and how they might have influenced my feelings. If that helps others, I am glad. So for my future self: remember when they separated babies from parents because of a need to get rid of illegal immigrants? How many of them were seeking asylum from life similar to what the characters in this book were living with? I have friends who lived through being held up by guerrillas. I don't believe that these people are taking away our jobs. Watch how the costs of foods go up as citizens take back the farming jobs. Just saying. Anyway, this book was well written, at times even poetic. It kept me up as I couldn't leave the characters when it was well past time to sleep. I think everyone should read this book. Even if it doesn't change your point of view, it could help educate on the history and peoples of South America. And if it feels factual, like a true story, know that the author did live through a lot of what the book tells about. The girls playing with injured Barbies. The dreams of the girl's leg with sock and shoe that the main character saw on TV news minus a child's body. These are just a couple incidences that felt too real to be fiction. When I rate a book with five stars I know that I will remember it. It affected me deeply. I'm so happy that NetGalley had it for me to read for review.

  27. 4 out of 5

    Diana

    This was a great book! I'm an advocate for diverse literature but I do understand I do not read many books about the Hispanic / Latin American community. This is the second book I read that is written by a Colombian author. I loved the strong female characters in this book enjoyed the writing. I wish there was a bit more explanation about the historical events. Having little knowledge of Colombia and its history, it was a bit difficult to understand the turmoil. I did have to Google to gain bett This was a great book! I'm an advocate for diverse literature but I do understand I do not read many books about the Hispanic / Latin American community. This is the second book I read that is written by a Colombian author. I loved the strong female characters in this book enjoyed the writing. I wish there was a bit more explanation about the historical events. Having little knowledge of Colombia and its history, it was a bit difficult to understand the turmoil. I did have to Google to gain better understanding of that time period. Overall, it was a good book. I thirst for more books that take place in Latin America. Thank you!

  28. 4 out of 5

    Julieth

    https://booksensationlife.wordpress.c... full review on my blog. I cannot wait for this novel to come out. I will definitely be adding this to my library.

  29. 3 out of 5

    Kaitlyn

    (4.5 stars) This book was so lovely and lyrical. It was written so well. I loved the characters of this book; they were intricate, imperfect, and accurately written. The majority of the story was told from the perspective of a young girl and Contreras did a wonderful job making her sound her age. I adored the depth of characters in this book, especially the main character’s mother. I also appreciated that this book easily could have had an unrealistic happy ending, but the author made sure there (4.5 stars) This book was so lovely and lyrical. It was written so well. I loved the characters of this book; they were intricate, imperfect, and accurately written. The majority of the story was told from the perspective of a young girl and Contreras did a wonderful job making her sound her age. I adored the depth of characters in this book, especially the main character’s mother. I also appreciated that this book easily could have had an unrealistic happy ending, but the author made sure there was no pretty now on top. There were some details that were inconsistent for me and I felt that the ending was rushed, but overall, I know this book will end up being one of my favorites of the year.

  30. 4 out of 5

    Sharon

    In this enthralling novel, bits of Colombian history (especially the machinations and de-evolution of Pablo Escobar), are mixed with the coming of age of two diverse and unique female characters. Chula is a child of a wealthy and insulated family in Bogota, and Petrona is a young woman who leaves her poverty stricken and violent slum to be a maid for the Santiagos. Both characters are fully realized, with their own growth path they need to travel- a parallel movement in the beginning, but one th In this enthralling novel, bits of Colombian history (especially the machinations and de-evolution of Pablo Escobar), are mixed with the coming of age of two diverse and unique female characters. Chula is a child of a wealthy and insulated family in Bogota, and Petrona is a young woman who leaves her poverty stricken and violent slum to be a maid for the Santiagos. Both characters are fully realized, with their own growth path they need to travel- a parallel movement in the beginning, but one that soon separates in unexpected ways. Contreras focuses mainly on these two females, but also- I think- uses them as symbols to spotlight the sacrifices, choices, and compromises many women had to make at that time. The characters can be seen as representations of milestones in the lives of the average Colombian female in the late 80s/early 90s. Chula is the inquisitive but innocent child, Petrona is the young woman thrust too soon into adult responsibilities, and Alma (Chula’s flighty mother) finds that there comes a point when harsh reality steals every last hint of youthful hope. This novel is full of impossible situations and undesirable choices. It is wonderfully written with a highly readable blend of literary symbolism, family drama, historical observation, heartfelt emotion, and just a touch of suspense. Truly a must read. This ARC was obtained from Doubleday/Random House in exchange for an honest review.

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