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Prayers for the Stolen

3.97 of 5 stars 3.97  ·  rating details  ·  1,775 ratings  ·  376 reviews
A haunting story of love and survival that introduces an unforgettable literary heroine

Ladydi Garcia Martínez is fierce, funny and smart. She was born into a world where being a girl is a dangerous thing. In the mountains of Guerrero, Mexico, women must fend for themselves, as their men have left to seek opportunities elsewhere. Here in the shadow of the drug war, bodies t
Hardcover, 224 pages
Published February 11th 2014 by Hogarth (first published 2014)
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Diane S.
When I read the sentence, "The best thing you can be in Mexico is an ugly girl", I knew this book was going to be something special, a heartbreaker and I was right on both counts.

Ladydi and her mother Rita live in a mountain community in Guerrero. Once a family community now there is not much left, the men are gone. Most to the United States where they find jobs, sending money home for a while and then finding new lives, abandoning their old. When the hear the SUV's coming, the girls hide in hol
Naked Consciousness

Having access to pre-release books for review, I often find myself in the untenable position of having to force myself through tortuous, mediocre, crudely written books. There's a lot of appallingly bad writing out there, cleverly disguised by misleading cover art; their publication based largely on overused cliches. I feel resentful for the time I spend choking down uninspired, poorly researched titles, when there are authors who invest themselves, literally for years, in the development of a
On our mountain only boys were born, and some of them turned into girls around the age of 11.

3.5 stars. This is a shocking but very beautifully written account of live in rural Mexico, especially looking at the women of the country. There were so many things I did not know before reading Prayers for the Stolen - for instance that so many men left for work in the USA, leaving all the women to fend for themselves Being in a place without men is like being asleep without dreams. Or that so many gir
Angela M

This is the moving story of a young girl , Ladydi , her friends and their mothers and how they cope on a daily basis with the fear that permeates the place where they live . The scenario depicted in the small mountain village of Guerrero , Mexico is so horrendous that you hope this work of fiction is purely the author's imagination . Unfortunately , it is more than likely based more on reality than we want to believe .

This small book is full of violence , sadness , death and fear - so much fear
Emma Deplores Goodreads Censorship
This is a very short novel, almost a novella, written in a simple, rather dreamy stream-of-consciousness style: first person, no quotation marks, jumping around and speeding through events. The subject is the plight of rural Mexicans, particularly women, and I phrase it that way because I get the sense the author was driven to write more by the subject matter than the plot or characters. Despite the brief page count, the book includes the stories of many minor characters, facing everything from ...more
"The best thing you can be in Mexico is an ugly girl."

These are some of the first words of Ladydi Garcia Martinez and they set the tone for this brutal, yet beautiful coming of age novel. Ladydi is a teenager in Guerrero, Mexico, a place where mothers masquerade the daughters as boys, blacken their teeth or rub chili powder on their cheeks, all to disguise their beauty. They dig holes outside their homes for the girls to hide when the SUVs rumble into their barren town.

This is a place where girl
One thing about the Amazon Vine program is that there are 100s of books available to choose to review, so I often only click on books with great covers. I thought this cover was especially interesting and decided to read the first couple of pages to see what it was all about:
Now we make you ugly, my mother said. ... I watched her move the piece of charcoal across my face. It's a nasty life, she whispered.

It's my first memory. ...I must have been about five years old. ...The best thing you can b
I read this at the request of my daughter. It is not something I would ever had read otherwise. It was a beautifully written book about a horrible life. I will never think about illegal immigrants the same way again. I've heard the tales of them coming here to avoid their horrible lives but I could not relate and still can't really. I was born here in the USA and dang grateful for it. Living through these nightmares with this young girl, even if made up has shown me how horrible the horrors coul ...more
Bonnie Brody
Clement has a natural way with words. Her narrative is somewhat minimalist in style yet incorporates a lot of magical realism.

The chapters follow the life of Ladydi who lives with her mother in a mountain village about an hour away from Acapulco. Rita, Ladydi's mother, is an alcoholic. There are no men in the village. After they've fathered children, they leave for the big city or the United States. The novel follows Ladydi from her village to Acapulco and further.

Ladydi and the other girls are
Anna Archdale
It has been a very long time since I have been so moved by a book. Villages all over Mexico are living different aspects of this book on a daily basis and I have certainly heard stories or rumours about everything involved, the things that the Mexican authorities manage not to see or hear. The lost girls of Mexico (and no doubt many other countries too) are a tragedy and scandal of enormous proportions and need to be brought to the attention of the civilized world. It is an incredibly brave book ...more
WOW! Very rarely do I find a book that leaves me in my mind wondering... In the beginning I was a little confused at the present and past tense status' running simultaneously.. Jennifer Clement did a wonderful job bringing the two into an artfully written novel of tragedy and love interwoven with a social dynamic that most American women have no Idea would even exist! Ladydi the main character tells of her life and the tragedy of being born a girl. Even worse a beautiful girl. The minimized horr ...more
Guerrero, Mexico is a place where girls disguise themselves as boys to ward of rapists and kidnappers, a place where decapitated bodies hang from bridges and heroin, drug cartels and cold-blooded killers are a normal part of every day. Where vultures act as the X on an (anti)treasure map, pointing out the location of yet another dead body. A place where pesticide rains down from the sky and the place that young Ladydi calls home.

Prayers for the Stolen is a heart-wrenching and intimate portrayal
The Shutterbug
An excellent view into the lives of Mexican women struggling to survive in a country run by drug traffickers. As a Latina woman this story is heartbreaking. I live close to the US/Mexican border, an hour close to one of the most dangerous places in the world. It's terrifying really being a neighbor to such violence. Prayers for the Stolen tells the story of a girl born into this nightmare. We get a glimpse at what women must do to keep themselves safe from the drug cartels. Young girls are dress ...more
Rebecca Foster
Clement was raised in Mexico and based this book on extensive interviews with women affected by the country’s culture of drugs and violence, as well as women in prison. In a world where up to 800,000 people are trafficked annually (a U.S. State Department estimate), often for sexual purposes, it is essential to raise awareness of the plight of women. That is what Clement has done with her gritty and at times disturbing coming-of-age novel. Though the plot grows darker than you might imagine, the ...more
Being born beautiful – looking, say, like Jennifer Lopez – is, for most women, akin to winning the lottery.

Except, that is, if you are born in the remote mountains of Guerrero, Mexico.

Ladydi Garcia Martinez, a young girl trying to reach adulthood in a land where drug traffickers routinely steal the most beautiful adolescents and force them into prostitution, and her close-knit group of girlfriends are just trying to survive. One of her friends, is stunningly beautiful – a Jennifer Lopez clone. A
Ladydi García Martínez lives in the sort of backwater jungle town where nobody has daughters. Not because of some weird Marquezian curse, but simply because it's no place for girls. The boys can learn to be drug mules or sneak into the US to work as gardeners; girls, from the moment they stop being children, are prey. The ground around her village is riddled with holes where girls run to hide any time SUVs with armed men roll into town. Beauty tips involve ruining your skin, hiding your figure, ...more
Sonja Arlow
3 1/2 stars

I think the power of this story lies not only in its raw unique format but also because it so closely mirrors the reality of what is currently happening in Nigeria, with its own girls being stolen.

This unique story tells of the forgotten, in a place where the police and the drug lords are equally feared.

“The best thing you can be in Mexico is an ugly girl”

Violence, poverty, injustice and neglect grate on these forgotten women and girls until they no longer react to atrocities that sur
Meg - A Bookish Affair
4.5 stars. Here's a little known fact about me: I studied Latin American politics in college and I'm absolutely fascinated by that region and I'm always excited when I can read something about this region. "Prayers for the Stolen" is set in Guerrero, Mexico, a place with an interesting history and a lot of violence in its current day. Ladydi, named after Princess Diana, grows up in a world where if you are pretty at all, you are probably going to be kidnapped. The women of the town spend an inor ...more
Ladydi Garcia Martinez is a fierce young girl but only acknowledged as a boy. According to her mother, living as a girl is not a blessing but a curse. Perceived to be a boy, she operates in the realm of one. Tough and adamant, her mother word is the only thing that matters. Even if her mother sounds unreasonable at times, she knows that she cannot question her, knowing that she will have severe consequences. As far as the relationship that she share with her father, is nonexistent in her opinion ...more
A good read, but the plot was a bit lopsided, with an exhaustive set-up full of endless ruminations and metaphors on the protagonist's origins and hometown, etc., etc. But the author seemed to lose interest in the story by about 3/4 of the way through, leaving several gaping holes in the narrative. Overall a bit overrated, I'd say.
Fond of:

Having gone to Mexico in the past the location of the novel is what first intrigued me, then it was the subject matter. The plot not only focused on the actual taking of a young girl in the village but the aftermath and effect it had on those even years later which I found to be an interesting view.
The last quarter of the book was a twist for me. Despite the cover's flap I was not expecting the bad luck that once again befalls her and thought it was well executed with well developed char
The setting for "Prayers for the Stolen" is Guerrero, Mexico, a place which has been all over the news lately for things all too common in Mexico: grisly mass murders, mass kidnappings, and deep-rooted government corruption.

The characters in this book face that same reality, surrounded by gang violence and especially the human trafficking of women and girls. In a poor mountain village with no fathers or husbands for protection, where calling the police equals inviting trouble, and where buzzards
Clement is a talented writer with the ability to make her writings so beautiful that it's almost poetic at times, but this is where the positive aspects of the book end.

She starts the book with such gusto and excitement, allowing the reader to enter into a colorful foreign world, no matter how dismal. And then she seems to grow as tired of writing the book as the reader grows of reading the book. Because of the narrations and lack of character development, she creates a great beginning and then
Prayers for the Stolen is excellent! It is beautifully written and is a heart wrenching expose of one of the most brutal aspects of the rampant and powerful drug trade in Mexico. But the book does not take you through a graphic Tarantino tour of the horrors implicit in the story. Instead, Clement manages to focus on the endurance and resilience of the women who face unspeakable abuse and trauma. We can imagine but do not relive the terror. We see the before and after, the anticipation of and the ...more
Thomas Chatterton
(from my review in the WSJ)

Feb. 28, 2014 2:08 p.m. ET
'The best thing you can be in Mexico is an ugly girl," Ladydi says. She is the 13-year-old narrator of Jennifer Clement's beautiful, heart-rending novel, "Prayers for the Stolen." Her first name pays tribute to the late Princess Diana, yet Ladydi's circumstances in a nameless mountain village in the state of Guerrero, an hour's drive from the glitzy beaches of Acapulco, could hardly be farther from royalty. Situate
I received this book as a goodreads First Reads advance readers giveaway, and am happy to have been able to read this important book.

Set in a rural area of Mexico not far from Acapulco, this is the story of a small, impoverished community from which all the adult men have fled to find ways of making money. Left behind are their wives and children, who must deal with the daily challenges of their poverty, and, more critically, the impact of the local drug lords. Centered on one young girl, Ladydi
Anna Elliott
This novel deals with some difficult issues. Every year in Mexico women go missing, stolen by drug cartels to be used as prostitutes or slave labour. Jennifer Clements has based her novel on the lives of these women and she unflinchingly faces this issue head on.

See my full review at www.leftontheshelfbookblog.blogspot.c....
Shayla Williams
If anyone else won a copy and has not yet received it, please try emailing

I finally got the Advanced Reader Copy that I won as a Goodreads First Reads giveaway yesterday. I couldn't put it down! The writing is so good you can almost forget how tough it is to read emotionally. Almost.

It's a harsh, awful world these girls live in, and it doesn't have a particularly happy ending. They don't marry Prince Charming and move to New York or Paris. They survive. In the end
“The best thing you can be in Mexico is an ugly girl.”

Ladydi (named after Princess Diana because her mother ‘loved any woman to whom a man had been unfaithful’) is the narrator of this powerful novel set in a small village in Mexico situated between the seaside resort of Acapulco and the compounds of the drug cartels. If the drug lords hear of a pretty girl, ‘they’d sweep onto our lands in Black escalades and carry the girl off’. As a result, there are only ‘boys’ born here who somehow become gi
Martha Bralkowski
I cannot believe how tasteful Prayers for the Stolen was, despite the garish subject matter.
Jennifer Clement always managed to say just enough. You could imagine all the horror going on in the world, but she didn't spell everything out for you.
It was a very powerful book, and I liked the way it was written. I highly recommend this upon its publication to anyone.
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2015 Reading Chal...: Prayers for the Stolen by Jennifer Clement 1 10 Jun 17, 2015 03:35AM  
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Jennifer Clement (born 1960) is an American-Mexican author. She studied English Literature and Anthropology at New York University and also studied French literature in Paris, France. She has an MFA from the University of Southern Maine. She was President of PEN Mexico from 2009 to 2012. Clement’s books have been translated into 24 languages.

Clement is the author three novels: Prayers for the Stol
More about Jennifer Clement...
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“Don't ever pray for love and health, Mother said. Or money. If G-d hears what you really want he will not give it to you. Guaranteed. When my father left my mother said, get down on your knees and pray for spoons” 2 likes
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