Blurb from Goodreads
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, London, and the Amazon River.
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 rain forest 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 us 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.
This was a beautifully written novel about one man dealing with the regrets and mistakes of his life’s journey.
The story follows two time periods: when André was a foolhardy teenager on the cusp of manhood and when he is a middle aged man dealing with the breakdown of his marriage.
I absolutely adored the way this book was plotted. The pacing was just perfect. The whole novel had a glorious bittersweet tone to it and it also had an amazing power to shock and create strong reactionary feelings.
I loved both versions of André.
I loved the recklessness of his youth. He was a teenager dealing with the aftermath of his mother’s death, the expectations of his father and his growing feelings for a girl who could never be his. These three things collided to create a storm of deep emotion within the character and his actions weren’t always likeable or honourable but they felt very realistic.
As an adult, André had changed or more accurately evolved as a character. Life had not quite broken him but yet he was running. Always running from the past. Always denying his true self. In some ways this could be considered a coming of age story for the adult André rather than the teenaged one. Adult André was the narrator, it was through his eyes and his memories that we experienced the events of the novel and it was this older version that had the greatest character arc.
I also loved the setting of the book in Brazil. It provided a very vibrant backdrop to the main events of the story and to me felt like another character within the novel. The author really managed to echo the feelings of her main characters with the settings and therefore made this quite an immersive read.
I very much enjoyed this book and would highly recommend it to any fans of contemporary adult and literary fiction.
A copy of this book was kindly provided to me by the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.
Published June 2017