I recently finished up two books with a similar theme, so I thought I’d just review them together. They were both quite good and I’m very excited to share my thoughts with all of you.
The first book is The Disappeared by Kim Echlin. I first heard about this one from Amy, and then a few weeks later Jill reviewed it too. They both loved it, and based on their reviews it was one of those books that I just knew I HAD to read. Seriously, this is a book not to be missed. The Disappeared centers around Anne Greves, who is a lonely sixteen-year-old when she meets Cambodian-born Serey. They have an instant connection, and fall desperately in love, even though the looming danger of Serey’s return to Cambodia is never far from Anne’s mind. When the Pol Pot regime is officially over and Cambodia opens up again, Serey predictably goes back to find his family, leaving Anne, devastated, for the next eleven years. After more than a decade of wandering around like a lost soul, Anne travels to Phnom Penh to search for him. The book is written in second person, as if Anne is speaking to Serey the entire time, and it is beyond beautiful. Not only is it a love letter between the two of them, but it is also a testament to the love Serey has for his country. And I’m telling you guys, The Disappeared simply cannot be put into words – it must be experienced. It is haunting and gorgeous and incredibly heartbreaking and just truly wonderful. And it inspired me to do some research on the Pol Pot regime in Cambodia, which I knew very little about. So, honestly, don’t miss this book. It is sad, yes, but ultimately a fantastic read that I personally could not put down.
The second book is The World in Half by Cristina Henriquez. This novel is told from the perspective of college student Miraflores. She’s trying to finish school and take care of her mother, who has early onset Alzheimer’s, when she comes across a secret about her father: she had been told all her life that he abandoned her before she was born, but letters she found in her mother’s home tell a different story. So she travels from Chicago, Illinois to Panama in search of the father she’s never met. One of the main strengths of this novel, for me, was Mira’s character. I can’t tell you how much I sympathized with and loved Miraflores – she was so easy to like, so easy to understand, and I couldn’t help rooting for her throughout the novel. I was literally breathless when the inevitable time came where she actually got to discover the truth about her father – I was anticipating this moment so much, on her behalf! I also loved the vivid descriptions of life in Panama – I finished the book feeling like I’d traveled there myself, the descriptions were that detailed. The writing was quite beautiful, too. I don’t really know what else to say – I simply loved The World in Half and wouldn’t have changed a thing about it!
So there you have it – two women, both searching for something in a foreign country. Both books were excellent and I hope you get the chance to read each one.