Spanish / Argentina
Martinez Arroyo, Carola
Buenos Aires [et al.]: Norma, 2016. – 110 p.
(Series: Zona libre)
Chile | History 1980s | Dictatorship | Oppression
Reading age: 10+
White Ravens issue: 2017
The time of the military dictatorship in Chile (1973-1989) has only recently been broached in children’s and young adult literature. In her debut novel, Carola Martinez Arroyo, a Chilean native author who has long lived in Argentina, portrays that time through the experiences of a child. Matilde, who is approximately ten years old, grows up in the 1980s without her father, one of the thousands of the regime’s “disappeared” victims. Matilde’s mother and friends of the family also face the threat of persecution. The girl, who experiences her mother’s and grandmother’s suffering, insecurity, fears, taboos, and sense of powerlessness, wishes nothing more fervently than to live a “normal” life like other children. When the situation comes to a head, mother and daughter finally get themselves to safety in exile. Martinez draws this portrait of an injured childhood against the concrete background of Chilean history. At the same time, her moving, unsettling novel has a universal character, since it shows that Matilde’s story can repeat itself anywhere and anytime.