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Daughters of the Air

4.07  ·  Rating details ·  135 ratings  ·  57 reviews
Tatiana "Pluta" Spektor was a mostly happy, if awkward, young girl—until her sociologist father was disappeared during Argentina’s Dirty War. Sent a world away by her grieving mother to attend boarding school outside New York City, Pluta wrestles alone with the unresolved tragedy and at last runs away: to the streets of Brooklyn in 1980, where she figuratively—and literall ...more
Paperback, 184 pages
Published December 5th 2017 by Lanternfish Press
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Average rating 4.07  · 
Rating details
 ·  135 ratings  ·  57 reviews

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Angela M
Oct 24, 2017 rated it liked it
3.5 stars

This is a powerful story about a young girl from Argentina whose father “was disappeared" during the Dirty War in Argentina ( Tatiana, who calls herself Pluta at 12 , found it difficult to understand that her father wasn't coming back and at 14 imagining and still hoping he'd come back . She has more of a loving relationship with her father, Daniel, a sociology professor than with her mother . Isabel is concerned with her looks and her clothes a
Julie Christine
On a summer's night in 1980, Tatiana "Pluta" Spektor walks away from her New York boarding school and hitches a ride to the city. The young teen is swallowed up by Brooklyn. Pluta wanders, a displaced shell, silent and sullen, forced to use a body she doesn't entirely understand to survive, until she learns to spread her literal and figurative wings.

Daughters of the Air is a coming-of-age tale set against memories of Argentina's Dirty War. From 1976 to 1983, over 30,000 Argentinians were "disapp
Aug 09, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  (Review from the author)
Well, gosh! I wrote this novel and am pretty darn excited about it. Hope you are too.
Oct 09, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: fantasy, arc, fiction
This story took me completely by surprise. Publicly released descriptions do not prepare you for the grit and ache and struggle and longing that will fold over you as you read the words on the page. I love characters that make me feel something because those emotions are what I carry with me, what I return to as I experience my own life.

The story alternates between Argentina during the Dirty War in the late 1970s and Brooklyn, NY a few years later. The main character, who calls herself “Pluta”,
Oct 31, 2017 rated it really liked it
A gritty and poignant novel about the ways that past trauma trickles into the present and becomes a reverberating, haunting presence. I really liked Szilágyi’s evocative style and her beautiful way of describing Pluta and Isabel’s moral (as well as mortal) conflicts as they grapple with the loss of their former lives. The surrealist elements of the novel are really well written and add a whimsical, fairytale quality to the narrative. Even more, I liked the way that Daniel was not only a victim o ...more
Dec 23, 2017 rated it it was amazing

Most Sunday mornings you can usual find me in bed flicking through blogs and tumbler looking for new books to read. And that was how I came across this one. The cover grabbed me as I was passing through. It seemed like such a strange image that I had to stop and find out what it was all about. Argentina is a country I know little about other than its location on a map. So I felt a slight intrigue to maybe learn something. Also I was curious about Pluta and what would happen to here once she bec
Mel (Epic Reading)
Apr 26, 2018 rated it did not like it
DNF @ 35%

Through the opening 35% of Daughters in the Air that I read, I kept hoping that I would be drawn in by something, anything really. So many reviewers have praised this novel, and yet I just couldn’t feel any real connection or compassion for any of the characters. That includes our lead teen who runs away.

Each chapter swaps between her in the current time, as she is running away, and her past time, when her father left and her relationship with her mother deteriorates. I can honestly s
Haley Eckels
Jun 05, 2018 rated it it was amazing
This book perfectly combines elements of magical realism, teen angst, and the gritty beauty of 1980s Brooklyn. It tells the story of a young girl who runs away from her boarding school in the wake of her father's disappearance in Argentina's Dirty War. The protagonist grows, changes, and transforms as her world falls apart. The prose is tight and effective in providing authentic voices for the characters. I highly recommend this novel! ...more
Dec 06, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Wow. Heartbreaking, but with a very satisfying ending. Beginning with chapter 2, I was hooked.
May 04, 2018 rated it it was amazing
This book was recommended to me by a friend of mine who knows the author. I really had no clue as to what this book was about, but I decided to buy a copy and dive in. Wow! I was pleasantly surprised by how amazing and powerful this book is. With a difficult subject matter (the political unrest in Argentina in the 1970's), this is a tale of loss, but also of redemption. It reminded me of Isabel Allende's The House of The Spirits. It is both brutal, and beautiful.

What I Liked:


The book is
Susan DeFreitas
Feb 06, 2018 rated it it was amazing
If Anca Szilágyi’s Daughters of the Air is a fairy tale, it is a real one of the old school, forged in fire and annealed in blood. If it is a work of realism, it reveals how reality fractures in the face of falsehood — family secrets no less than state ones.

The novel follows the fortunes of Tatiana “Pluta” Spektor, a young girl whose father went missing during Argentina’s Dirty War. Pluta, a runaway lost in New York City, reminded me of Clarice Lispector’s Macabéa, lost in Rio de Janeiro. And t
Oct 15, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Szilagyi has written a beautiful first novel. The story has an unexpected twist that takes it into territory that is both surprising and enchanting. With scenes set in Buenos Aires, New York, Manaus and Rome, it is a globe-trotting story set in a more innocent 1980s and a grittier world. It was a time when getting lost was still possible. This was a great book to start the year with!
Jan 19, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: read-in-2018
I was captivated by this dreamy, heartbreaking book. Magical realism is my favorite genre!
Aug 19, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: netgalley, arc
***Review for NETGALLEY***

When I started Daughters in the Air, I thought I would be reading about Argentina's war in the 70's-80's. I did learn a lot about the events that took place during that time of turmoil in Argentina. These are events that many people do not know about, unless you know someone from that region or lived there. These are events that I've only recently learned about through online media, about the Ladies in the White Hats.

This book does cover that, but it covers it in the e
Jun 04, 2019 rated it really liked it
"Daughters of the Air" is a compelling and disturbing story. It dives into a girl's psyche after her father disappears from their life in Buenos Aires, Argentina during the political upheaval in the late 70s. Her mother receives a package at the door, we assume it is the father's hand or both hands, there is a wedding ring. She buries the box and does not tell her daughter anything, probably because she won't admit it to herself. She had been the one to insist on staying when he considered leavi ...more
Apr 07, 2018 added it
This story, set in the late 1970s-early 80s, is a pleasure to read, full of sensory detail. The settings are vivid. The characters are fully rendered and believable. Our hero, the impulsive, enigmatic Pluta, realizes her abducted father, a victim of the Argentinian government, will never return to his family. She escapes from the Connecticut boarding school to which her mother has sent her and flees to New York to make her own way. She quickly discovers that the streets are a bad place for a fou ...more
Kris Waldherr
Nov 02, 2017 rated it it was amazing
I was fortunate to read DAUGHTERS OF THE AIR in manuscript format, and found myself thinking about it for a long time afterward. Whenever I read anything by Anca Szilagyi's, I know I'll be encountering something entirely original (though if I was to think of another author akin, I'd have to compare Szilagyi to Angela Carter because of their fabulist tendencies). DAUGHTERS OF THE AIR is Szilagyi at the height of her talents, with each evocative word and image oh-so-carefully parsed and considered ...more
Thea Swanson
Oct 14, 2018 rated it really liked it
Daughters of the Air held my attention for many reasons. It is one of those books that one sinks into, drinking multiple cups of tea, sitting by a window, basking in the beautiful language and steady pacing. I spent all of a Sunday, luxuriating in the story, rooting for Pluta through her many perils. This novel is also one of impact and education as we are led into a fictional family's devastation at the hands of the Argentinian dictatorship that took place (1976-1981); with that said, the novel ...more
Caroline Thomas
Jan 07, 2019 rated it really liked it
Beautifully written and artfully walks the line of subtle magical realism and trauma/mental health.
Jennifer Pullen
Jun 20, 2019 rated it it was amazing
An unsettling and moving modern fairy tale. I was riveted.
David McMurray
Feb 07, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Daughters of the Air is a coming of age story, set against the backdrop of Argentina’s Dirty War, and distilled (in prose chock-full of unexpected delights) within two critical moments in the life of Tatiana ‘Pluta’ Spektor. The first revolves around the disappearance of her academic father in Buenos Aires (the presumed victim of a political purge), the events leading up to it, and its fallout. The year is 1978 and Pluta is twelve. The second takes place in New York, where mother and daughter ha ...more
Kristen Millares
Jul 17, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Spanning continents, eras and perspectives, Daughters of the Air is a lyric exploration of the legacies of violence in the wake of Argentina's dirty war of the 70s. Elements of magical realism abound, but in truth, their effects feel absolutely apropos in the mind, body and spirit of the protagonist Pluta, who loses her father and later, her sense of selfhood in diaspora. As stark as that sounds, Szilagyi's writing is lush, whether invoking an opera hall deep in the jungles of Brazil, the shimme ...more
Nanako Mizushima
Jan 14, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Anca is a writer of fiction but her book touches upon themes I struggle with: international politics, the father daughter relationship, family secrets, and shifting between different time/location periods. Anca's story gives a personal face to the 30,000 people who "disappeared" during Argentina's Dirty War (1976 - 1983). In Buenos Aires, a young girl is never told what happened to her father who suddenly disappears, partly because her mother doesn't understand herself what happened. The consequ ...more
Marssie Mencotti
Jul 12, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Anca Szilagyi is an amazing writer. She treads the junctions where magical realism, the occult, fantastic beasts, and coming of age intersect with human emotions of grief and loss. At first I thought this was going to be about Pluta (Tatiana), a young woman about 14 years old but the author also explores the mother's emotional life as they both struggle in the years surrounding the disappearance of the husband/father in Argentina. I was thoroughly engaged in this deep dive into a search for the ...more
Alison Whiteman
Feb 19, 2018 rated it it was amazing
This book is remarkable and I am struggling to give it the review it deserves.
Blackwell Boyce
Dec 28, 2018 rated it liked it
I suppose this is my last book of 2018 - and it's a worthy book to finish off what has been a great year of reading for me. I was immediately pulled into the story - even though it started off relatively innocently - and was unprepared for the various (shocking/fantastical/false(?)) turns it proceeded to take. I found the magical element to be perfectly melded to the gritty reality. Motifs were developed with subtlety; the plot crafted with great skill. The ending was conclusive (and very moving ...more
Apr 05, 2018 rated it it was ok
Shelves: dnf, 2018
I actually couldn't finish this book...I really wanted to like it. I love Argentina it's my second country. But I just couldn't get into this story. I think the author wanted us to feel the confusion of Pluta, but I needed a little bit more to go off of. ...more
Dec 04, 2017 rated it really liked it
Thank you to NetGalley and Lanternfish Press for the ARC of this book in exchange for a honest review.

Anca Szilágyi is not just an author; she’s a poet, and this is not just a book but rather a piece of art. Set against Argentina’s “Dirty War” and the years proceeding it, this book describes the emotional and sometimes physical aftermath of a father gone missing. For choosing such a gritty and dark background to set this book Szilágyi paints a very vivid world. There were pages in which I could
Isla McKetta
Nov 25, 2017 rated it really liked it
This story that touches Argentina's Dirty War, the gritty days of Brooklyn, and what it's like to be alone in the world before your time shows, through one family's experience, how tragedy and political upheaval can upend lives and alter forever the future we once thought we had. Szilágyi pulls no punches with Pluta's experience as a teen on the streets of a pre-hipster Brooklyn and I found myself wanting to shake Pluta's mother from her stupor. Daughters of the Air is not a perfect book, but th ...more
Nicole Hardina
Apr 24, 2020 rated it it was amazing
This beautiful novel broke my heart, and I ‘m glad for it.
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Anca Szilagyi is the author of Daughters of the Air, which Shelf Awareness called "a striking debut from a writer to watch." The Seattle Review of Books named Daughters of the Air a favorite novel of 2017, calling it "a creation of unearthly talents." Her short fiction appears in Gastronomica, Fairy Tale Review, Washington City Paper, and elsewhere. Her nonfiction appears in Orion Magazine, the Lo ...more

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