Prayers for the Stolen
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Prayers for the Stolen

4.05 of 5 stars 4.05  ·  rating details  ·  847 ratings  ·  211 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...more
Hardcover, 224 pages
Published February 11th 2014 by Hogarth (first published February 6th 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...more
Anastasia Løgstrup Riebs

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...more

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...more
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...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
Laura W.
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...more
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
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
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...more
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
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...more
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...more
Claire P
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...more
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...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.
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.
Be forewarned - this book is filled with violence, sadness and hopelessness.
That said, it is also a mesmerizing, timely story that is currently playing out in the national news.
Young teen, LadyDi lives with her alcoholic, tv addicted mother in a Mexican jungle village. Her father is long gone. The village mothers have dug holes for their daughters to hide in when the drug runners approach the village looking for girls to steal.
The story is told by LadyDi in an unemotional tone reflecting the rea...more
Carey Combe
Oh my god, just finished this. Brilliant - moving, harrowing, believable - and written in an unsentimental dispassionate style that makes it all the more powerful.
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...more
4.5 Jennifer Clement writes as if she is telling you a story in a loud whisper; with both an urgency and a gentle force. Terrible things happen in this novel set in the mountains of Guerrero, Mexico. The area is drug ridden, poor and without men. They all have left or been murdered. The young girls left behind are taught to be as ugly as possible so as not to be stolen by a drug lord. Being a girl in this land is dangerous. Ladydi, the teenage protagonist, and her group of friends form a communi...more
Jennifer Clement describes her third novel as a work of fiction based on truth. In Mexico, hundreds of thousands of women disappear every year – taken as prostitutes, drug mules, forced labour on illegal poppy fields, forced labour on the estates of drug barons. In Prayers for the Stolen Clement has constructed the story of just one: Ladydi, who lives in a village full only of women (all the men are either dead, working for the cartels, or have new lives in the US). And the women, like the men,...more
Startling, Shocking, Stark!

I had been watching the U.S.-Mexican version of the series, The Tunnel, so when I saw this title I vaguely thought it might have something to do with disappeared young women in Mexico.
It does! Really, anything one might say seems trite in the face of the grim truths related.
It is a bleak comment on the fate of young girls and women in areas of Mexico.
The story is set in the hillside area of Guerrero, an hour from Acapulco. An area that drug lords and dealers have rav...more
Jennifer Clement’s Prayers for the Stolen is going on my “essentials” shelf, my place of honor for books that merit regular rereading.

Prayers for the Stolen is a hard read, but an absolutely brilliant read. By hard, I don’t mean turgid prose or endless, unnecessary detail. It’s a hard read in that the lives of all the characters are unrelentingly hard, but the reader so quickly becomes attached to these characters that after the first few pages one is absolutely committed to the book.

Prayers for...more
Tara Chevrestt
I have two good things to say about this story. 1. The author can write. This is not one of those fifth-grade level writers. She has a strong, literary voice. It was almost poetic in its telling at times. 2. It transports you to a place in a country with situation you most likely never imagined.

But. That being said, while I appreciated the author's voice and skill and imagine she's a very intelligent person, her characters are dumb and unlikable. I didn't like any of them, not even the heroine,...more
I saw this advance copy in the break room at work, so I grabbed it and finished it in one night. A free book does not a good review make.

But, I liked it! Truly the tragedy of Mexico's stolen women and the astounding number of rapes and disappearances and murders is horrific. This book was not. It well expressed the ever-present threat of kidnapping from the point of a young girl in a very poor area, without getting graphic or gory.

Don't be pretty.

Be a boy. Be ugly. Have a harelip. Have black tee...more
In a lot of ways, this book was well-done. Unfortunately, one of the pitfalls of writing about a mostly-ignored problem (the rampant kidnapping of young girls throughout Mexico, done by the cartel) is that the author over-reaches and wants to include EVERY aspect of the troubled country.
The Shutterbug
Feb 17, 2014 The Shutterbug marked it as to-read
I must have this! I'm a Latina who lives close to the border, just a fence away from the drug wars. This really hits home for me.
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Jennifer Clement's new novel Prayers for the Stolen was awarded the NEA Fellowship in Literature 2012 and will be published by Hogarth (USA and UK) in February 2014. The book has also been purchased by Suhrkamp, (Germany), Editions Flammarion, Gallimard (France), De Bezige Bij (Holland), Cappelen Damm (Norway), Hr Ferdinand (Denmark), Bonniers Förlag (Sweden), Laguna (Serbia), Euromedia (Czech Rep...more
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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” 1 likes
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