Cheryl Klein's Reviews > The Book of Emma Reyes

The Book of Emma Reyes by Emma Reyes
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it was amazing

I downloaded this book because Susan Straight said it was the best book she read last year. It's an extraordinary artifact from a woman who survived a traumatically ordinary childhood and became a successful artist in Europe. Born into poverty in Colombia in the first half of the 20th century, Emma and her sister Helena are abandoned by their abusive mother and smart enough not to help the nuns who rescue them to track down their family. The nuns are abusive too, but in a more mundane, institutional way. Emma has an artist's eye for detail that threads itself through the book like the delicate embroidered tablecloths she slaves over at the convent. In a world of drudgery and ritual, she finds magic--as when she befriends a strange girl who claims a tiny ceramic doll named Tarrarurra is in fact her little brother, who journeys into the world and brings back stories in exchange for bits of stolen food. "I preferred the stories of Tarrarurra to the stories of Sacred History," Emma confesses. It shows; her own story is told simply (via a series of letters to a friend), viscerally, wryly, and unblinkingly.

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Reading Progress

December 16, 2017 – Shelved
December 16, 2017 – Shelved as: to-read
January 16, 2018 – Started Reading
March 23, 2018 – Finished Reading

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