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The Tree of Red Stars
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The Tree of Red Stars

4.02  ·  Rating details ·  264 Ratings  ·  34 Reviews
Winner of the Milkweed National Fiction Prize and the Friends of America Writers Award in 1997, this vivid debut, set in Uruguay in the 1960s, charts the toll of political events on a young woman and those close to her, as their democracy is gradually taken over by a military dictatorship.
Paperback, 304 pages
Published October 16th 1998 by Milkweed Editions (first published May 1st 1997)
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Apr 25, 2013 rated it liked it
Magda grows up in a privileged home in Montevideo, Uruguay. The first part of the novel takes us through her childhood life taking for granted the world she lives in. As the story progresses we learn more aboiut the larger picture - the politics of the nation and Latin America in general - until finally we are absorbed by it. An interesting window into a country we know little about. The writing flows well and makes for an easy read. Would be good for a discussion group, or for a class on Latin ...more
I picked this book for a reading challenge to read a book set in Latin America written by a Latin American author, and I'm so glad I did. I love coming of age stories, but without this prompt, I might not have picked up this gem of a book.
Set during the political upheaval in Uruguay in the 1960s (which I confess to never having known about before), the story follows young Magda and the other members of her town. The politics are never really explained, but it's not necessary in a story about in
Mar 05, 2018 rated it liked it
Don't know much about Uruguay, it's history or politics.
Rowland Pasaribu
Sep 16, 2010 rated it really liked it
The triumph of Tessa Bridal's 1997 novel, The Tree of Red Stars, is not that it introduces contemporary American readers to the political upheaval in Uruguay in the 1960s and 1970s. In fact, the political situation surrounding the events of the book is somewhat under-explained, left to function as a frightening shadow and not really examined in much detail. Like much in totalitarian countries, the political dynamic that drives the actions of the characters in this novel is shrouded behind a veil ...more
Karla Larson
Dec 28, 2016 rated it it was amazing
I loved this book! In my hometown of Montevideo, Minnesota stands a statue of Jose Aretega and there was a sister city relationship between the two cities. This book has renewed the desire to visit the country!
Mar 26, 2008 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: Everyone
Recommended to Carrie by: Erin Lucas
A debut novel and winner of the 1997 Milkweed Prize for Fiction: This book tells a story about love and ideals during Uruguay's takeover by military dictatorship in the 1960's.

Interesting and well written with a appearance of Che Guevara. It is surely worth the read. Although the novel has an inevitable conclusion, grand moments of human sacrifice make the story of young Magda compelling.

Author: Tessa Bridal
Publisher: Milkweed Editions
Copyright: 1997
Genre: Novel
Pages: 287
Date Read- 6/4/08 to 6/9
Margaret Azu
Jul 20, 2014 rated it really liked it
I read The Tree of Red Stars by Tessa Bridal. This book was the story of a young girl named Magdalena and her growth. She lived in Montevideo, the capital of Uruguay, at a time when the government was turning to Communism. She lived a sheltered life in the upper class until she became interested in the political affairs of her country. Magda had aways been outgoing and curious. She often got herself into trouble and played pranks, but this was not nearly as dangerous as what she would encounter ...more
Jul 01, 2008 rated it liked it
The first several chapters are charming vignettes narrated from a child's perspective--a glimpse at a privileged world, but never a completely sheltered one, as the character is exposed to many difficult realities--a neighboring family that escaped the Holocaust, strained relationships resulting from societal expectations (among them, that men will be men, and that women ought to look the other way when it comes to their indiscretions--and certainly never behave in a like manner), poverty, etc. ...more
Dec 27, 2007 rated it it was amazing
This is a wonderful and moving book. I bought it to give to my mother, but ended up reading it myself first. Since I have a personal connection to Uruguay, I particularly enjoyed the history of, and the scenes in, my mother's home country. The political struggles in the 60's and 70's and the fate of the "dissappeared" were hard for me to read because of my family connection. I traveled to Uruguay about a year after reading this novel, and the descriptions of the landscape and the people were so ...more
Chloe Johnson
Jul 17, 2015 rated it really liked it
Shelves: books-13-25
This is the story of Magda. She is a young girl who grows up in Uruguay during the political unrest of the 1960s and 70s. Magda must find her self and learn how to be a woman in a world where so much is changing. Her family and others are affected by violence and she her self eventually gets involved in the politics protesting teh government's dictatorship. While this is happening she falls in love and has experiences with friends and family that will forever shape her.

I love this book. Magda is
Alexis Kreun
May 25, 2016 rated it really liked it
I really enjoyed this book. Magdalena is a believable and likable main character, and her perceptive observations about the people and happenings in Uruguay helped me to feel like I was actually there with her and experiencing this tumultuous time in history along with her and her compañeros. The narration of this story had a good balance of levity and seriousness and dealt respectfully with some really heavy topics. It presented an alternative perspective to US intervention in Latin America wit ...more
Nov 03, 2014 rated it really liked it
Shelves: uruguay
A moving book about Uruguay in the 60's when the Tupamaros battled the military dictatorship of the country. This books follows three privileged young women and their families as they grow into adolescents and young adulthood and the enormous disparities in their lives and those of the majority of the country become clear to them. The portrayal of the torture and tragedies experienced by countless people is heartbreaking. Yet, the relationships between the characters give the reader some kind of ...more
Jun 04, 2013 rated it really liked it
i was unprepared for the conclusion of this book, while it was not a complete surprise (thanks to a graduate school seminar on nationalism in latin america), it was poignant. i thoroughly enjoyed the episodic storytelling & retelling of childhood moments. i had the pleasure of speaking with the author. while strung together as a work of fiction, all of the stories in this novel are true - based on her experiences & the experiences of her friends & family in uruguay.
Dec 18, 2011 rated it really liked it
According to people in the Cranbury book group who have been there, this is a realistic portrayal of life in Uruguay during the sixties. Upper class life, life in the poorest shanties, political unrest in the universities. A coming of age story too. Noone has seen a poinsettia tree, but noone doubts it exists. Beautifully written story of two girls and their boy friends from age 7-8 to adulthood.
Jul 27, 2010 rated it it was amazing
This is another book I discovered through the Milkweed National Fiction Prize list. This was an engrossing book that transported me to Uruguay with its physical beauty but mainly the beauty in the struggle of its people for freedom. The love, the bravery, the fear, and the double lives of the community of resisters all took my breath away.
Marilynn Mullen
Jun 28, 2012 rated it really liked it
Shelves: book-discussion
My son read this in college and passed it on to me several years ago. I think I really needed to read this. I knew very little about the history of South American countries. I read more since then and my book group really enjoyed the book and discussion over a cup of matte tea.
Jan 03, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Beautifully written novel about Uruguay in the tumultuous 60's. Wonderful characters and much color to the stories the main character relates. It's also a story of rebellion by the Tupamaros...a history I was not aware of. And there is love. I recommend this book!
Dec 24, 2013 rated it liked it
Insights into what inspires people to take political action, even when it appears to be against their own family and self-interest. See more at International Reads' blog about Uruguay.
Florence Primrose
Feb 06, 2012 rated it liked it
This is an account, fictionalized, of the events of Uruguay under siege in the 1960s. The author puts the reader in Uruguay in the midst of the turmoil.
This was all new material for me and I found it very interesting, even though it was not as well- written as some books.
Jun 04, 2008 rated it it was amazing
One of my personal favoorites. You simply have to read because my summary would not suffice to describe this novel.
Nancy H
Oct 28, 2011 rated it really liked it
This is an extraordinary novel about Magdalena, who grew up in Uruguary during the 1960's and although from a wealthy family herself, became part of the revolution to seek justice for the poor.
Steven Felicelli
Jul 23, 2016 rated it did not like it
Dec 12, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Powerful, gut-wrenching story from a corner of the world that never receives enough attention.
Mar 13, 2008 rated it it was amazing
Uraguay sounded like a nice place before i read this, now it's much more alluring
May 20, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Very thought provoking read concerning the downfall of democracy and the rise of dictatorship in Uruguay. Well written.
Jul 28, 2012 rated it really liked it
I learned alot of interesting, and horrifying, information about what happened in Uruguay in the 70s.
Chesney Schilling
Sep 13, 2008 rated it did not like it
I'm only reading it for school. There's a lot of things in it that are vulgar.
Dec 04, 2012 rated it it was amazing
This book actually made me cry. Beautiful story!
Feb 03, 2010 rated it liked it
Interesting details of life in Uruguay in the 1960s.
Apr 05, 2012 rated it really liked it
An assigned reading worth reading. The coming of age story of a young Uruguayan in the time leading up to the military dictatorship in Uruguay.
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