4 out of 4 stars
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In Desert Roses, Luz Emilia Haddad brings readers into her world growing up in Mexico in the 1950s. Life was not a bed of roses. Having lived the first six years of her life without knowing her father, she, her siblings, and her mother lived with her grandmother, Elsa. Her grandmother's dislike for them was evident, and it seemed that even the little money sent by her father for their upkeep was siphoned by her grandmother. They lived in poverty. Eventually, they moved to be reunited with her father, and that was the genesis of the unimaginable suffering the author would face for many years of her life; that suffering that would be executed by her father, the person who was supposed to protect her. With everything that happened, her mother's silence was perplexing.
The author's story addresses several issues she faced, from her dysfunctional family dynamics to the physical, sexual, and emotional abuse she suffered at her father's hands. Also, the author incorporates themes of living in constant fear, survival, loss, and faith, but at the center of it all, she refuses to model her mother's behavior and hopes, for the next generation's sake, to break the silence that enables the perpetrators of these inhumane acts.
Overall, at 366 pages in length, the book was an emotional, engaging, and educational read for me. I admire the author for being brave enough to create awareness of an issue that still plagues society today and always striving to become the best version of herself despite all the obstacles she faced. Her background as a graduate of human development is fully on display in this piece, as we see her dissect her emotions to understand the reasons for her horrible experiences and the effects they had on her.
One of my favorite aspects of the book is the author's style of describing events. Written from the first-person perspective, Luz Emilia Haddad progressively captures her level of thinking and emotions at different points of her life as she grew up. One part that touched me was when her mother left her for months, and when she asked her grandmother about her mother's whereabouts, she was told that the dog had eaten her. She genuinely believed that her mother was dead, and so did I, as I could feel her pain as a kid. Luz Emilia Haddad also takes some moments to reflect on the lessons she learned through life, including lessons on dealing with her pain and the importance of creating a bond with her siblings. Readers will get to learn a lot from these parts of the book too.
With respect to editing, Desert Roses is a professionally edited book. I found just three errors while reading. There were also a few sentences that could have been more concise towards the end of the book, but my reading flow wasn't affected by them. I cannot think of much to dislike about the book; I did not like the author's rough experiences, however. Even though the parts that have to do with abuse were not thoroughly described, her emotions and confusion as to why those things were happening to her were well documented.
For perfectly executing this emotional, eye-opening piece, I rate Luz Emilia Haddad's Desert Roses 4 out of 4 stars. Readers who have been through any form of abuse will benefit from several lessons the author includes here. Lovers of memoirs will enjoy this book. The world needs more books like this that will encourage us to shatter the thick walls of silence that make us complicit in other people's suffering. Just like Luz Emilia Haddad realized, abusers are even afraid of victims speaking out.
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