‘I am huddled on a beach, shivering, but I don’t care about being a bit cold because I’m busy.’
Ella Black seems to live the life most other seventeen-year-olds would kill for . . .
Until one day, telling her nothing, her parents whisk her off to Rio de Janeiro. Determined to find out why, Ella takes her chance and searches through their things.
And realises her life has been a lie.
Her mother and father aren’t hers at all. Unable to comprehend the truth, Ella runs away, to the one place they’ll never think to look – the favelas.
But there she learns a terrible secret – the truth about her real parents and their past. And the truth about a mother, desperate for a daughter taken from her seventeen years ago . .
What I thought:
This whole book takes places over the 40 days mentioned on the front cover, each chapter title is a reminder of how many days left ‘until she dies’ which gives a feeling of pace and an intensity to the book. You’re never allowed to forget that something is going to happen in x amount of days and as each day passes so does the pace of the book.
The book starts with Ella being pulled out of school for no reason by her parents to go on holiday to her dream destination of Brazil. When she finally finds out what’s going on and that her family are not what they seem to be she panics and goes on the run into the favelas of Rio.
Although the majority of this story takes place in the Brazilian favelas there is no doubt that this takes place through the eyes of a European and her beliefs and privileges. This doesn’t take away from the story as Ella herself knows that she’s coming from a position of privilege especially when she starts working at a school for the children of the neighbourhood. But it is something that you have to be aware of while reading, even when Ella is at her lowest she’s still in a better position than others and is making a conscious decision to not to contact the Embassy, even when she knows she is not in trouble.
I read this book in one sitting and really enjoyed it, it’s fast paced and Ella’s struggles not only in the favela but in who she is feel real. It’s only a slice of life in Rio and the people in it but everyone she meets has their own story and background. They aren’t 2D characters who only exist to help further the story and Ella, they all have their own lives and reasons for doing things.
Why I read this book:
I loved Emily Barr’s first book ‘The One Memory of Flora Banks’ and so when I was in the bookshop and saw that she had written another book I bought it instantly.
Once again I feel like I massively shortchanged this book and I’m blaiming it on the fact I’m a month behind on writing up my reivews.
Barr has written a story that feels alive in the streets of Rio that deals with multiple personalities as well as adoption. It’s full of colour and life is definitely worth a read.
Would I recommend: Yup, definitely. I’d also recommend Barr’s other book.
PopSugar: Set in a country that fascinates you, about mental health, published in 2018.
Read Harder: Set in a BRICS country, one sitting.
I’m going to do my best to try and catch up ASAP so that I don’t keep short changing books.
As always please comment if you’ve read or if you want to read.