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Perla

by Carolina De Robertis

Eighteen-year old Perla is starting to hear rumours about Argentina’s horrific past. Who are the people who ‘disappeared’ during those troubled years? Her devoted parents don’t want her to worry about it – after all, it’s water under the bridge now. Perla’s not so sure and one night an unexpected visitor starts to guide her along a painful trail of self-discovery – you’ll probably cry for both Perla and Argentina before you reach the end.

Extract

[My father] was also the man who long ago, prowled into the kitchen at 3 a.m. only to find his daughter barefoot on the tile floor, a small insomniac in a pink-flowered nightgown. You can't sleep, can you, Perla, you are your father's daughter, he would say, smiling, and search the cupboards for chocolate we would break into little jagged squares, our midnight prize for being the wild ones, the two who could not wrestle themselves down to sleep, just because the lights went out, just because the clock said it was time. We were not like Mama, the Queen of Sleep, who could lie down when the extended ritual of cotton balls and makeup removal was complete, and doze as soon as she closed her eyes, and who could not understand why her husband and daughter tossed and turned, rose and roamed the night. Only we shared this fate, Papa and Perla ...

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