Who should be held responsible for public wrong? By 2008, it finally seems that the Peruvian government is ready to make amends to its citizens after the violent guerilla movement of the last three decades.
Otilia and Salvador, a mother and son torn apart during the conflict and separated for twenty years, are eager to have their pain and suffering acknowledged. But they hit a roadblock when the government denies responsibility in their legal case.
Things begin to look up however when Otilia meets Jerry, a kind man and the son of Jewish parents who escaped the Holocaust. Grappling with his own upbringing and the psychological struggled his parents endured, Jerry is just the person to empathize with Otilia's feelings. Together, Otilia, Jerry and Salvador must support one another through the turbulent journey that is healing from historical trauma. And through it, find the courage to rebuild their lives and open themselves to love and companionship.
Artfully weaving together different timelines and countries, this novel examines the nuanced topic of grief a community endures after a collective tragedy. In this exploration of the culture of remembrance following displacement and loss, we discover what happens when our past calls us back to what we must do to achieve justice and reconciliation when we return.
The email came late one night as Jerry Gold lay at home in his bed. He rubbed liniment on his right knee before applying an ice pack and, a little apprehensive, asked himself if he should consider giving up jogging at his age. Jerry didn’t make it a habit to look at his messages this late, but the pain kept him awake. When he reached for his cell, he noticed an unfamiliar name. Jerry almost deleted the message, but for some reason, opened it.
Mr. Gold, my name is Dario Alvarez and I’m reaching out to you, wondering if you could be my relative. I was born in La Paz, Bolivia in 1949 to my mother Soledad Figueroa. When she was close to her death, my mother confessed that I was not the son of the man I lived with and called my father, but of a foreigner she had known by the name of Milan Goldberg. If you have any information about Milan Goldberg, I would appreciate hearing from you. Thank you for your help.
As Jerry lay in bed, he remembered how, at the end of his life, his father began to talk more about his time in Bolivia. Jerry tried to remember what his father had said about his time as a refugee, when he had been known as “Milan” but Jerry hadn’t paid much attention. At the time, he thought it was best the old man dream about his romantic entanglements rather than what he would have faced had he remained in his homeland in Eastern Europe. Jerry's father had rambled on about his relationships with Latin women in Bolivia, extolling the virtues of one in particular named Soledad. He said he’d had a serious relationship with this Soledad, who lived in a sheltered environment and had to lie every time she sneaked out of the house.
But had his dad fathered a child? This went ‘round and ‘round in Jerry’s mind. Would communication with Dario expose a family secret? He wondered if he should ask Dario for more information before committing to becoming involved. Young adult relationships came and went, and sometimes tough choices had to be made, but Jerry hadn’t really believed his father was in an intimate relationship with Soledad. Not in Jerry’s wildest dreams had he thought the relationship his father had described had, in fact, taken place.
About the Author
Eliana Tobias was born in Santiago, Chile, to immigrant parents who escaped the Holocaust. She graduated from the University of Chile then completed other degrees in early childhood and special education in the United States and Canada. After working in this field in various capacities, including teaching at the National University of Trujillo in Peru, she moved to Vancouver, where she
has lived for thirty years and where she discovered her love of writing. Her rich experience of political turmoil, of listening to stories of the Holocaust when Jewish communities in Europe were shattered, of losing family in Chile under military dictatorship, and living in Peru during a time of intense civil conflict, fueled her passion to write about the ways in which people caught in devastation rebuild their lives. Eliana Tobias lives in Vancouver, B.C.
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