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Friday, June 30, 2017

#allthebookreviews : Flesh and Bone and Water by Luiza Sauma @scribnerbooks @luizasauma @jessicamapreviews

Flesh and Bone and Water
by Luiza Sauma
Scribner Books

Final June book for #allthebookreviews!  PHEW!  For our first month, we did pretty dang good!  Lots of books and lots of reviews!  We both received surprise copies of this from Scribner Books and when Scribner Books sends you something, YOU READ IT.  See our thoughts below on this atmospheric, debut novel from someone you should keep your eye on!

Goodreads Synopsis:

From an exciting new voice in literary fiction, a seductive, dazzling, atmospheric story of family, class, and deception set against the mesmerizing backdrops of Rio de Janeiro, the Amazon River, and London.

André is a listless Brazilian teenager and the son of a successful plastic surgeon who lives a life of wealth and privilege, shuttling between the hot sands of Ipanema beach and his family’s luxurious penthouse apartment. In 1985, when he is just sixteen, André’s mother is killed in a car accident. Clouded with grief, André, his younger brother Thiago, and his father travel with their domestic help to Belem, a jungle city on the mouth of the Amazon, where the intense heat of the rainforest only serves to heighten their volatile emotions. After they arrive back in Rio, André’s father loses himself in his work, while André spends his evenings in the family apartment with Luana, the beautiful daughter of the family’s maid.

Three decades later, and now a successful surgeon himself, André is a middle-aged father, living in London, and recently separated from his British wife. He drinks too much wine and is plagued by recurring dreams. One day he receives an unexpected letter from Luana, which begins to reveal the other side of their story, a story André has long repressed.
In deeply affecting prose, debut novelist Luiza Sauma transports readers to a dramatic place where natural wonder and human desire collide. Cutting across race and class, time and place, from London to Rio to the dense humidity of the Amazon, Flesh and Bone and Water straddles two worlds with haunting meditations on race, sex, and power in a deftly plotted coming-of-age story about the nature of identity, the vicissitudes of memory, and how both can bend to protect us from the truth.

My Thoughts: 

Andre, the son of a surgeon, who lives a life of privilege with two maids, Rita and Luana.  They take care of him, his younger brother and their father - especially so after the death of their mother.  Andre's father works all the time and is rarely home.  And Andre finds himself drawn more and more to Luana as he gets older.  Then one day she disappears and he takes off to travel the world, before settling into London.  Three decades later, he starts receiving cryptic letters from Luana and it shakes his world upside down.  

Written in alternating sections of Andre's past to his present day situation with his family, the author builds us a world that transverses racism, classism, the power of a first love, miscommunication and cultures across the world.  Admittedly, I struggled to get into the story line and thought about putting it down, but something compelled me to continue on and I'm glad that I did.  Luiza Sauma is someone to watch out for in contemporary literary fiction.  I did NOT expect the story to head in the direction that it did and it definitely gave me cartoon surprise eyes.  While this type of read is not my typical genre and felt a bit slow - this was just a personal preference and being picky.  Her writing style is beautiful and the story was fantastic.  I felt transported to Brazil, the Amazon, London and the like.   If you like atmospheric, contemporary reads with soul, you will love this book.

Big thanks to Scribner for this surprise copy.  That cover is gorgeous and the story is beautiful.

Jessica's Thoughts:

I received a surprise copy of FLESH AND BONE AND WATER by Luiza Sauma from Scribner right before release. I dove right into it without knowing the synopsis. It was a quick read at just under 300 pages- so beautifully written! Sauma proves that you don't need a long novel to have well-developed characters, landscape, and deception. 

Andre is a Brazilian teenager whose father is a successful plastic surgeon - they live in a life of privilege and wealth with multiple homes they shuttle between. At the age of sixteen, tragedy strikes, when Andre's mom is killed in a car accident. In the wake of her death, Andre, brother Thiago, and their father (with their help in tow) to Belem. Belem is a city in the jungle at the mouth of the Amazon - the overwhelming heat only heightens their volatile emotions and they decide to move back to Rio.

Thirty years later, Andre is a successful surgeon living in London with his family. Having recently separated from his wife, he develops a drinking problem and can't make the recurring dreams stop. Then one day, he receives a letter from Luana, the daughter of his family's former maid, bringing to light more memories that he had been trying to repress. 

For a shorter novel, this really packs a punch and beautifully tackles some very present issues. Touching on class and race, taking the reader from Rio, to the Amazon, and all the way out to London. The characters and their relationships are well-developed and Sauma intertwines the elements of sex, power, and race between two completely different worlds. The secrets and memories that shape who we are and how they can bend to save us from the truth we don't want to face. 

I give this fiction read a solid 4/5 stars!

A big thanks to Scribner for a copy in exchange for my honest review!

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