Friday, January 27, 2023

Perpetual West: A Novel by Mesha Maren

(Thank you to the publisher and NetGalley for providing me with a copy of this book!)

about book: (summary from Goodreads)

​“Stunning . . . A forceful addition to the literature of the U.S.-Mexican border and its ongoing history of tragedy and joy.”
—Jennifer Clement, The New York Times Book Review 

“Suspenseful, seductive . . . A thrill ride from cover to cover.”
Oprah Daily, “The 50 Most Anticipated Books of 2022” 

The riveting new novel by the acclaimed author of Sugar RunPerpetual West is a brilliant and evocative story of borders—between countries, between lovers, and between facets of the self.

When Alex and Elana move from smalltown Virginia to El Paso, they are just a young married couple, intent on a new beginning. Mexican by birth but adopted by white American Pentecostal parents, Alex is hungry to learn about the place where he was born. He spends every free moment across the border in Juárez—perfecting his Spanish, hanging with a collective of young activists, and studying lucha libre (Mexican wrestling) for his graduate work in sociology. Meanwhile Elana, busy fighting her own demons, feels disillusioned by academia and has stopped going to class. And though they are best friends, Elana has no idea that Alex has fallen in love with Mateo, a lucha libre fighter.

When Alex goes missing and Elana can’t determine whether he left of his own accord or was kidnapped, it’s clear that neither of them has been honest about who they are. Spanning their journey from Virginia to Texas to Mexico, Mesha Maren’s thrilling follow-up to Sugar Run takes us from missionaries to wrestling matches to a luxurious cartel compound, and deep into the psychic choices that shape our identities. A sweeping novel that tells us as much about our perceptions of the United States and Mexico as it does about our own natures and desires, Perpetual West is a fiercely intelligent and engaging look at the false divide between high and low culture, and a suspenseful story of how harrowing events can bring our true selves to the surface.

my thoughts:

Wow. What a terrific book! I LOVED Perpetual West by Mesha Maren. A gripping story about borders - physical and emotional, this is a read that will grab you by the heart and shake you awake. Eye-opening and thought-provoking, this is one unputdownable book. A definite must-read. 

Elana and Alex are a young married couple who decide to relocate to El Paso where Alex is attending grad school. Elana is an undergrad who waits tables. The two are best friends, but seem to be disconnected. Alex is obsessed with discovering his roots in Mexico where he was born - he was adopted by a family in Virginia as a baby. So, he immerses himself in the world of lucha libre (Mexican wrestlers) in Juarez, which is just across the border. He meets Mateo, a Mexican wrestler. The two fall in love. Meanwhile, Elana is trying to figure out her life when she gets called away for a family matter. She has no idea what is transpiring between her husband and Mateo. In fact, when she returns home to El Paso she finds Alex gone. Convinced that something bad happened to her husband she goes to the police for help, but they dismiss her worries. And so, Elana sets out to figure out where her husband is and what happened to him. Along the way, she discovers the secrets he's been keeping from her. And, that is all I will write about this awesome story - you need to read it for yourself to find out what happens to both Elana and Alex. 

Maren has written a compelling story about identity, politics, family, and love. She's created characters that are unlikeable and unreliable - the perfect kind to love/hate. Her story unfolds in a tense and slow-burn manner that is addictive. I couldn't stop reading! And, her writing is top notch. All in all, she has created an unforgettable story. 

I would definitely recommend Perpetual West to anyone and everyone looking for their next great read - make sure to check it out!

Thank you to the publisher and NetGalley for providing me with a copy of this book!

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