Wednesday 3 May 2023

UNTAMED SHORE by Silvia Moreno-Garcia

Baja California, 1979: Viridiana spends her days under the harsh sun, watching the fishermen pulling in their nets and the dead sharks piled beside the seashore. Her head is filled with dreams of romance, travel and of a future beyond this drab town where her only option is to marry and have children.

When a wealthy American writer arrives with his wife and brother-in-law, Viridiana jumps at the offer of a job as his assistant, and she's soon entangled in the glamorous foreigners' lives. They offer excitement, and perhaps an escape from her humdrum life. When one of them dies, eager to protect her new friends, Viridiana lies - but soon enough, someone's asking questions. It's not long before Viridiana has some of her own questions about the identities of her new acquaintances.

I always look forward to reading Silvia Moreno-Garcia's latest release. No matter what genre she tackles, or which time in Mexico's history she chooses, her writing style never fails to hook me in.

It's 1979 and Viridiana lives in the small town of DesengaƱo with her mother, stepfather and a bunch of half-siblings. She knows how to speak, write and read several languages, loves to read, and often watches the dead sharks on the beach after the fishermen pull their nets. The day three rich Americans rent a holiday house, one of them hires her, and her life is never the same again...

I really enjoyed this! It's another intriguing, original story with a real sense of location, starring a very likeable, headstrong young heroine.

Viridiana is on the cusp of womanhood and is trying to find her own path. One that is different to her mother's. She doesn't want to tie herself down in a boring marriage or start having a bunch of kids so young. Her head is full of ambition and romantic notions that rival her favourite movies and books. She dreams of escaping to the city and living an exciting life. When she meets three wealthy Americans living a carefree life, this only deepens her desire to go places. With some unexpected consequences.

A lot of interesting things happen in Viridiana's life during this hot summer, but I especially liked her ability to adapt and learn. Sure, some of the tips she picks up are questionable, and she's willing to overlook several situations even though she knows better. But in the end, I thought her character arc was very interesting.

Untamed Shore is a coming of age story with a good dose of crime thrown in. It's unpredictable and I couldn't stop reading because Viridiana's voice is so compelling.

Thank you Hachette Australia for sending me a copy of this awesome book.

Untamed Shore, February 2023, ISBN 9781529426311, Jo Fletcher Books

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