Have you ever read a book that totally speaks to you? I recently received a book to review that wasn’t what I expected. I thought Perla would be a book about Argentina, sharing a side of the country I hadn’t seen yet, an interesting work of fiction, a nice read, you get the idea. What I found when I read it was completely different. I found Perla by Carolina de Robertis a masterfully written work written in my own style, stayed with me after reading, and took me by surprise at the end.
When I first cracked open the book, I wasn’t sure that the way Perla was written would be appealing to other readers. I knew that I enjoyed it, but that was because it reminded me so much of the poetry I used to write in my younger days. I could spend hours trying to track down the poetry (trust me, her writing is better than my feeble attempts at poetry!) to compare for you, but I think it may just work better for me to tell you she writes the way I thought my poetry sounded. To give you an example, here is one of my favorite parts of the book:
There’s that feeling that comes when you read something and the lines speak directly to you, and to you only, even though the person who wrote them died long before you were born, or, even if alive, has no idea you exist. The words seep right into your mind. They pour into your secret hollows and take their shape, a perfect fit, like water. And you are slightly less alone in the universe, because someone once found words for things within you that you couldn’t yourself name — something gesturing not only toward what you are, but what you could become. In that sense, books raise you, in a way your parents can’t. They emancipate you.
That right there is not only the way I feel about books and about writing, but it’s written in a way that speaks to me in the way that it’s describing. Just reading this book brought back the creativity that I thought had vacated after my children were born. I even started to write my novel after reading this book. It was that powerful to me.
To tell you simply that this book stayed with me after I read it would be to make a very small statement about a very monumental event. It’s not to say that I’ve never read a book that spoke to me or that was written in my style or even that challenged my creativity. But never have I ever read a book that captures all the above in a single work. The writing of this book stayed with me, and still does, but to detail part of the reason for it would be to give away part of the secret that you’ll discover at the end of the book. I wish I could find some way to tell you why I adore it so, why it seems not only like a work to read and remember but also a work to emulate, but to do so would ruin the secret and surprise of the book, and I couldn’t do that to Perla’s author. Suffice it to say, I wish I had read this book about five years ago.
Which brings me around to my last point – I absolutely loved the surprise in this book. With any story, there’s the first bit where the story is laid out for you and you find out who you’ll be spending the next several hours (or days) with, then the bit where you find out the problem and where we’re going from here, then finally the resolution when we find out what resulted and what happens next. As much as I adored the writing in Perla, as much as Ms. de Robertis spoke to me and her words stuck with me, what I loved the most was the ending. The bit about what results and what happens next is by far the most moving part of the work. If only I could share with you – come back after you’ve read it, I’d love to hear what you think! I do think you’ll agree with me though, that the best part is in the end.
There are a few more portions of the book that I marked to share with you, dear reader, but I couldn’t quite fit them in to my review. One I’ve removed because it would give away too much, but here is one I do want to share because it resounds so completely:
There are some experiences that only you can enter, that only you can truly hold. They are too vast to be imparted. You cannot even hold them wholly in your arms: they spill over into the dark beyond you, brimming, shooting out in ropes of light that make you ache with loneliness and yet yoke you to the world at the same time, because the vast things that have happened to you, however terrible, were always born out of the world, and so perhaps they offer you a place even as they push you out of another, even as they weigh you down with a self that can never fully be conveyed. Though most of us will try. We make bonds, we grow trust, we tell stories; we strive to articulate what it took to become who we are. Sometimes, if we’re very fortunate, our listeners catch authentic glimpses of what we mean to say, like sparks in a dark room, but never the whole of it at once, not even with the best of friends or closest lover, because the whole of it at once is beyond speaking. It lives nowhere, absolutely nowhere, except inside your skin. That’s where it flares, enormous, hazardous, utterly yours.
Do you see what I mean? How powerful is that – how true for me… And you, dear reader, do you also find this paragraph to speak to you, to put into words that for which you couldn’t find your own words? This is one of those books that gets me high on reading, high on living, high on the human experience. It’s like my enthusiasm for the world, life, creativity, all of it just swells and expands when I read words with this kind of beauty and power. I hope, dear reader, that you will enjoy as well. For these reasons, I would urge you to pick up your own copy of Perla by Caroline de Robertis or read it in the library or if you know me in person, ask to borrow it! But be forewarned, I’m not giving up my copy because this will be a book that stays on my shelf where I keep the books I quote and refer to often.
Perla is on tour with TLC Book Tours, check out the reviews from these other tour hosts:
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Disclosure: I received this book for free from the publisher to facilitate my review. My opinions are honest and my own.