Things We Lost in the Fire Stories by Mariana Enríquez

thingssource: ARC via AmazonVine
title: Things We Lost in the Fire
auhtor: Mariana Enriquez
published: Hogarth (February 21, 2017)
pages: 200
genre: short stories/fiction/mystery/suspense
rated: 3 1/2 out of 5 stars
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blurb:
Macabre, disturbing and exhilarating, Things We Lost in the Fire is a collection of twelve short stories that use fear and horror to explore multiple dimensions of life in contemporary Argentina. From women who set themselves on fire in protest of domestic violence to angst-ridden teenage girls, friends until death do they part, to street kids and social workers, young women bored of their husbands or boyfriends, to a nine-year-old serial killer of babies and a girl who pulls out her nails and eyelids in the classroom, to hikikomori, abandoned houses, black magic, northern Argentinean superstition, disappearances, crushes, heartbreak, regret and compassion. This is a strange, surreal and unforgettable collection by an astonishing new talent asking vital questions of the world as we know it.

my thoughts:
Things We Lost in the Fire is a quiet, intense and at times disturbing collection of 12 short stories. I dipped in and out of this one intermittently. I’ll cover a few of the stories here in my post.

The Dirty Kid was about a woman who lives in an old house handed down to her by her family. The neighborhood in Buenos Aires which used to be nice, is now seedy and riddled with crime. A five-year old child and his drug addicted mother are homeless and sleep on dirty mattresses in the neighborhood. The narrator here cannot help but become involved and tries to help the five-year old.

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Under the Udala Trees by Chinelo Okparanta

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source: free copy via AmazonVine
title: Under the Udala Trees
author: Chinelo Okparanta
published: September 22, 2015
pages: 328
rated: 3 1/2 out of 5 stars
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blurb:
Inspired by Nigeria’s folktales and its war, Under the Udala Trees is a deeply searching, powerful debut about the dangers of living and loving openly.

Ijeoma comes of age as her nation does; born before independence, she is eleven when civil war breaks out in the young republic of Nigeria. Sent away to safety, she meets another displaced child and they, star-crossed, fall in love. They are from different ethnic communities. They are also both girls.

When their love is discovered, Ijeoma learns that she will have to hide this part of herself. But there is a cost to living inside a lie.

As Edwidge Danticat has made personal the legacy of Haiti’s political coming of age, Okparanta’s Under the Udala Trees uses one woman’s lifetime to examine the ways in which Nigerians continue to struggle toward selfhood. Even as their nation contends with and recovers from the effects of war and division, Nigerian lives are also wrecked and lost from taboo and prejudice. This story offers a glimmer of hope — a future where a woman might just be able to shape her life around truth and love.

my thoughts:
Narrated by Ijeoma, Under the Udala Trees starts off when she is just eleven years old and living in the war ridden republic of Nigeria in the late 1960’s.
When Ijeoma’s father is killed in an air bombing, her mother is left grief ridden and depressed, barely able to care for herself let alone her daughter. She sends Ijeoma off to live with a couple in another village. Ijeoma lives there almost two years before her mother comes back to get her. What she finds in this village is a friendship and eventually romantic feelings for a girl named Amina.

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