It is hard to describe the plot of this book without spoilers. The story is told from Andre’s perspective, as an adult, looking back on the events which occurred during the year of his 18th birthday and which completely changed his life, taking him from his home in Rio, to permanently living in London.
By about a third of the way through you begin to develop suspicions of what may have happened to Andre and Luana. Sauma does a good job of toying with the readers expectations and it was entertaining. However, I couldn’t help but feel it fell a bit flat. The eventual revelation is momentous and despite the short length of the book, there is a huge build up to it, however the amount of time exploring the issue itself is so short and is focused far more on continuation of the plot than exploring what it means for those involved.
I loved how the novel was immersed in Brazil and Brazilian culture and the prose was beautiful and really evoked the mood. Unfortunately, I struggled with Andre as a character; he was difficult to relate to and once the primary plot twist become obvious, I felt it lacked anything deeper and more compelling. The strands of the story came together well, however I would have loved it to explore issues like what happened to Andre’s mother, or Luana’s own situation more. I wonder if perhaps chapters from Luana’s perspective might have been more interesting in these respects. I think it was simply because the novel was so short that it didn’t quite reach my expectations.
It was definitely readable and I would be keen to try more from Sauma. I did enjoy her style and thought her plot was very interesting, unfortunately it just didn’t blow me away.
I received this book as an advanced reader copy from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review; all opinions are my own.