Fruit of the Drunken Tree by Ingrid Rojas Contreras

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fruitofthe.jpg

Fruit of the Drunken Tree by Ingrid Rojas Contreras

26.95

Julie’s pick: This debut novel follows the life of seven year old Chula as she navigates her middle class upbringing in Columbia during the era of Pablo Escobar in the 1980s. She befriends the family's housekeeper, Petrona, a teen who lives in a nearby invasion - a stark contrast to Chula's gated community. The plot quickly unfolds against a backdrop of national unrest and violence which leads to Chula's family moving to the U.S. A coming of age tale that twists and turns through childhood memories, this book is gorgeous, tumultuous, and devastating.

About the book: Seven-year-old Chula and her older sister Cassandra enjoy carefree lives thanks to their gated community in Bogotá, 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 inextricably linked coming-of-age stories. In lush prose, Rojas Contreras has written a powerful testament to 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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