The first few chapters of some books bore the reader with language that is either too
complicated or too plain. Myriam Alvarez’s clever novel, Flowers in the Dust definitely has the opposite effect.
On and off subway stops in New York, I found myself entranced by this historically-based and colorful story.
Alvarez, who has 20 years of journalism experience, is a writer and multilingual reporter who has worked for more than a decade as a foreign correspondent for the United Nations.
When her son was diagnosed with Leukemia, she stopped working to take care of him. And though it was a challenging time for her, Alvarez found comfort in her writing and decided it was time to share her grandmother’s story.
She was determined to tell a woman’s story and immediately thought of her grandmother who always told such entertaining stories when Alvarez was growing up in Argentina.
Later in life, Alvarez learned that those childhood stories also had a dark side, one that involved her grandfather, a man who was beloved.
“My book is a tribute to all the women who came before me and like my grandmother paved the way so I could have the life I have now,” said Alvarez. “They gave the next generation of women a voice and a dream. It is our responsibility as women to pass this on to the younger generations.”
The Flowers in the Dust author said her grandmother still serves as a creative inspiration for her on a daily basis.
Flowers in the Dust brings the story of the author’s grandmother to life by intertwining a few fictional elements and weaving them with accounts taken from real life.
Alvarez’s goal wasn’t only to honor her deceased grandmother with through Flowers in the Dust, but to also teach readers more about life in Latin America during the early 20th century.
“The younger generations don’t know much about the struggles of the people who came before them. “Flowers in the Dust” will transport them to a time, when family values were the most important thing and the bond between families was unbreakable.”
The start of the novel packs a punch. It’s action-filled and very suspenseful but ends abruptly, forcing the reader to ask themselves a series of questions.
Chola, the main character, a young girl from Paraguay grew up in a male-dominated Catholic society. She had very little education and was forced to turn to domestic labor instead of continuing her studies. Her father was very controlling over her sisters and ruined their love lives, but Chola’s story was different.
At a party at the home of her best friend, she met Hans, a German Jew. Hans fled Germany during the Holocaust with his immediate family and relocated in South America.
Despite being from two different worlds, there was a strong connection between Chola and Hans. Surprisingly, Chola’s father encouraged their relationship, thinking it would be beneficial to have Europeans in the family.
The young lovers marry but a ‘happily ever after’ is nowhere in sight.
Anyone can enjoy this book, but women can especially relate to Chola’s hurdles throughout the novel. I highly recommend Flowers in the Dust, because it’s educational and a fun read at the same time.
Alvarez hopes this book will encourage other writers especially Latinos to start sharing their stories.
“The Latino population is growing and there will be a larger need for Latino writers who understand the cultural differences and similarities, and are bilingual,” she said. “Don’t be afraid to stand out and be different, that’s what will make you special.”
Her book is currently available on Amazon and for download on your kindle.
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