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Fruit of the Drunken Tree

Fruit of the Drunken Tree

A Novel

Book - 2018
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"When women of color write history, we see the world as we have never seen it before. In Fruit of the Drunken Tree, Ingrid Rojas Contreras honors the lives of girls who witness war. Brava! I was swept up by this story." --SANDRA CISNEROS, author of The House on Mango Street A mesmerizing debut set against the backdrop of the devastating violence of 1990's Colombia about a sheltered young girl and a teenage maid who strike an unlikely friendship that threatens to undo them both Seven-year-old Chula and her older sister Cassandra enjoy carefree lives thanks to their gated community in Bogotá, but the threat of kidnappings, car bombs, and assassinations hover just outside the neighborhood walls, where the godlike drug lord Pablo Escobar continues to elude authorities and capture the attention of the nation. When their mother hires Petrona, a live-in-maid from the city's guerrilla-occupied slum, Chula makes it her mission to understand Petrona's mysterious ways. But Petrona's unusual behavior belies more than shyness. She is a young woman crumbling under the burden of providing for her family as the rip tide of first love pulls her in the opposite direction. As both girls' families scramble to maintain stability amidst the rapidly escalating conflict, Petrona and Chula find themselves entangled in a web of secrecy that will force them both to choose between sacrifice and betrayal. Inspired by the author's own life, and told through the alternating perspectives of the willful Chula and the achingly hopeful Petrona, Fruit of the Drunken Tree contrasts two very different, but inextricable coming-of-age stories. In lush prose, Rojas Contreras sheds light on the impossible choices women are often forced to make in the face of violence and the unexpected connections that can blossom out of desperation.
Publisher: New York : Doubleday, [2018]
Edition: First edition
ISBN: 9780385542722
0385542720
9780525434313
0525434313
Call Number: F ROJASCON
Characteristics: viii, 306 pages ; 24 cm

Opinion

From Library Staff

Previous selection: October 9th, 2019.

Partly based on the author’s real-life experiences growing up in Bogotá, Fruit of the Drunken Tree is a vivid portrait of innocent young lives caught in the middle of a horrifying conflict. SFPL's July- September 2019 On the Same Page selection.

A moving story of two young girls who become friends despite their differences and are ultimately divided by the upheaval and terror in their home of Colombia. This incredible debut looks closely at political violence, class, female friendships, and privilege.

Local author’s beautifully detailed novel takes place in 90’s Colombia through the eyes of a young girl.


From the critics


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l
ljnewton
Mar 03, 2021

An engrossing story told through the alternating voices of Chula, the daughter of well-to-do parents, and Petrona, their servant girl from the slums. Set in the times of violence and lawlessness of guerrilla warfare and Pablo Escobar, it tells the survival stories of each, but shows the desperate choices of the poor.

l
loriling
May 31, 2020

I enjoyed the alternating narratives of Chula and Cassandra, & thus alternating POV from a very poor vs middle class Columbian girls, the former who has to grow up much faster than the latter. The story reaches a climax where trust is broken between the two girls. Unfortunately, with the time jumps, I was NOT able to follow the author's plotting if their relationship was repaired or not. If yes, then how or why?

OPL_AnnaW Dec 20, 2019

Simply and elegantly narrated by two young girls, Fruit of the Drunken Tree provides a fresh perspective on a complicated historical time. I still think about the compelling characters in this coming-of-age story set in turbulent 1990's Columbia.

m
mnack_0
Sep 11, 2019

There were a lot of layers to this book - besides the practical nuts & bolts of the story, her graphic descriptions of Columbian life through the eyes of a child were riveting. The author did a terrific job of catching the "magical realism" of a child. Well written story about the impact of Pablo Escobar's drug kingdom on Colombia. And what it means to be a refugee in our country.

ArapahoeLesley Jul 26, 2019

I didn't get into the story until half way through but from then on it was engrossing. Maybe because I listened to it I would get the two young female voices confused. Nonetheless this is an impactful own voices novel based on the author's experiences growing up in Columbia.

t
Tara_P
Nov 09, 2018

A friendship between two girls, one a servant in the home of the other, forms as they negotiate the gritty realities of Columbia in the late 20th century with its drug lords, paramilitary forces, and oppressive regime. Bombing and death are commonplace but still unsettling to the privileged girl in her gated community. Kidnapping by any of the forces in the conflict might happen at any time, particularly if there is a chance that the person is of some value to them. The sense of place is strong, so much so that it seems to dominate the story interestingly. The author's writing style is idiosyncratic in a way that fits the story. She has clearly used much of her own experience in writing this novel, but it is genuinely a work of fiction as is apparent when she speaks of her life in an author's note at the end.

l
LibraryLES
Oct 19, 2018

I did not enjoy this book despite all the great reviews. I just couldn't get into the characters. I did enjoy the historical aspect and descriptions of Bogota and Columbian life, as tragic and sad as it was at times.

b
brangwinn
Sep 30, 2018

One can’t love a sad story like this, but one can become enmeshed in the story of how life can change dramatically in Colombia as the drug lords laid siege. Telling the two intertwined stories of an upper middle class girl and a girl born in the slums, the girls relationships change as the story unfolds.

e
emroberts
Jun 26, 2018

I loved this debut novel. Chula, Cassandra and their parents live in Colombia during the operation of the Medellín Cartel and Pablo Escobar, though the young girls are barely old enough to know much about either. Primarily through the younger Chula's eyes, Contreras builds a story about family, country and uncertainty. It's a bit of a slow burn--the author does a good job of limiting what we know, like her narrator would, but retaining the curiosity and rebelliousness of childhood. This book is fictional, but based on some of the author's real experiences. There are some fairly traumatic events (family separation, assault, kidnapping, refugee camps), that may be difficult for some readers.

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