Fruit of the Drunken Tree

Fruit of the Drunken Tree

In the vein of Isabel Allende and Gabriel Garcia Marquez, a mesmerizing debut set against the backdrop of the devastating violence of 1990's Colombia about a sheltered young girl and a teenage maid who strike an unlikely friendship that threatens to undo them both.The Santiago family lives in a gated community in Bogotá, safe from the political upheaval terrorizing the cou...

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Title:Fruit of the Drunken Tree
Author:Ingrid Rojas Contreras
Rating:

Fruit of the Drunken Tree Reviews

  • Jenny

    No matter who we are, what are race, religion, socio-economic background, we share some basic emotions and feelings. Fear, joy, love, jealousy, anger, sadness and hope are some of those emotions and feelings. What makes us different is our reaction to those feelings and the situations that brought about them.

    Ingrid Rojas Contreras's debut novel, "Fruit of the Drunken Tree," takes us to the South American country of Colombia during the extremely violent and turbulent 1990's when drug-lord, Pablo

    No matter who we are, what are race, religion, socio-economic background, we share some basic emotions and feelings. Fear, joy, love, jealousy, anger, sadness and hope are some of those emotions and feelings. What makes us different is our reaction to those feelings and the situations that brought about them.

    Ingrid Rojas Contreras's debut novel, "Fruit of the Drunken Tree," takes us to the South American country of Colombia during the extremely violent and turbulent 1990's when drug-lord, Pablo Escobar, instilled fear among the natives as well as the world.

    Drug kingpin Escobar was not the only threat Colombian residents had to live with. There were the communist guerrillas that were constantly trying to overthrow the government, kidnappings for ransom, other drug lords, smugglers, car hijacker bands, kidnappers that weren't guerillas, along with murders, robberies and so on. Some have described the nineties Colombia to the eighties Lebanon with all of the violence and corruption.

    Contreras introduces us to the Santiago family who live in a "gated" community in Bogota. Children that live inside the gates are insulated from then outside world of violence. They have a life filled with more joy than sorrow, more smiles than tears and more sense of normalcy than those living outside the gates.

    Fruit of the Drunken Tree is similar to the novel, "The Invention of Wings", as it is told from two perspectives. One is of young Chula Santiago, age seven, who lives with her sister, Cassandra, and parents inside "the gates."

    Chula is a very observant, inquisitive child. She watches and observes everyone. Some of her observations seem wise beyond her years.

    Chula's mother hires a new girl to be their maid. Thirteen year old Petrona, becomes the novels other storyteller. Petrona lives outside the gates in abject poverty and is the oldest girl in a family of nine children. She finds herself the breadwinner for the family.

    Petrona lives in a world of fear, death, poverty, rape, hunger and sadness.

    Contreras uses real events in this fictional tale. She is a fantastic storyteller and her ability to seamlessly switch perspectives is a work of art.

    Fruit of the Drunken Tree reminds me of standing in front of a great work of art trying to soak in every inch of it, knowing that you may have to go back again to get everything out of it.

    Just a footnote to this tale is that the author discloses in the afterword, parts of the novel were based on true events that happened in her own life. Some people shut down and never share traumatic events. Contreras not opens up, she gives us a book that will be read for years to come.

    I received an advance copy of this book from Netgalley. #Netgalley #FruitoftheDrunkenTree

  • Jen

    Ok truth- I added this one based on its title. Oh yes I did. The reality is, its flower, if consumed, can make one act as silly as a drunk 😵 and eventually poison it’s victim. Enough said.

    This is a story of a relationship between a girl and her maid. In the background, the civil war rages in Columbia. Pablo Escobar reigning terror over the country. The impact is devastating. Until it moves to the forefront and the little tranquility known for this family disappears and in its place the violence

    Ok truth- I added this one based on its title. Oh yes I did. The reality is, its flower, if consumed, can make one act as silly as a drunk 😵 and eventually poison it’s victim. Enough said.

    This is a story of a relationship between a girl and her maid. In the background, the civil war rages in Columbia. Pablo Escobar reigning terror over the country. The impact is devastating. Until it moves to the forefront and the little tranquility known for this family disappears and in its place the violence becomes the norm. A staged kidnapping which goes awry; a missing father; a traitor.

    Not a place I would ever visit knowing its history of civil war. Sadly, not all can escape the tragedy that awaits them. A disturbingly fictional account based on reality.

    A slow start but worth the patience. Rich in culture and description. A terrific debut.

    4.5⭐️

  • Elyse Walters

    Library Overdrive Audiobook....

    .....narrated by...Marisol Ramirez Almarie who was sooooooo outstanding....I had visions of bright changing colored fireworks in the sky. Her voice was perfect - flawless for this incredible- magnificent Latin American novel.

    Once I started this Audiobook (testing my ass), I literally did not want to stop being in this world. ‘We’ ( my buddy iPhone/ audiobook), and I, made the bed, folded laundry, took a 90 minute walk, rode the bike in the house, did stretching e

    Library Overdrive Audiobook....

    .....narrated by...Marisol Ramirez Almarie who was sooooooo outstanding....I had visions of bright changing colored fireworks in the sky. Her voice was perfect - flawless for this incredible- magnificent Latin American novel.

    Once I started this Audiobook (testing my ass), I literally did not want to stop being in this world. ‘We’ ( my buddy iPhone/ audiobook), and I, made the bed, folded laundry, took a 90 minute walk, rode the bike in the house, did stretching exercises, cut cauliflower- asparagus-chicken to sauté - ate -spent a couple hours cleaning the guest room which included more wash - sweeping - hosing down the patio - restocking supplies for the guest room - soaking in the pool - but never would I let go -of my new companion - She followed me through the day. IT’S THAT TYPE OF BOOK!!!!! AUDIOBOOK PAGE TURNING WITH MAGNETIC POWERS - the reader is willingly a captive.

    I had no idea it would be this good. Sometimes a beautiful book cover and an interesting book title turns out NOT TO BE A DISAPPOINTMENT.....THE WORDS INSIDE THIS BOOK ARE EVEN BETTER!

    I now have an experience of Columbia in the 90’s during Pablo Escobar - which I didn’t before. I did read a little more on Google - but I didn’t mind. It was all fascinating.

    It goes without saying that author Ingrid Rojas Contreras is a great storyteller....

    I was in knots at times - on the verge of tears so many times- completely crying at the end . The authors notes will have you sobbing. Be prepared.

    It’s THE EXPERIENCE.....not anything I write here that makes this book magnificent.

    People were screaming - there were gun shots - more screaming- crying - men and women climbing over cars trying to get away -maybe Galan is Dead? - driving through darkness- Barbie dolls - fear - more fear .....and so many heartbreaking moments:

    “mama, are you ok?” Mama never cried ......BUT SHE *was* crying!!

    You’ll meet Chula, ( youngest sister and narrator) Casandra, and their mother. You’ll meet Petrona and her story ( which deeply broke my heart)...and how she connected with the Santiago Family.

    From the VERY BEGINNING......to all the craziness and conflict in chaos and fright in the middle to the very end VERY END .....this novel - with it’s THROBBING TRAUMA....is strikingly beautiful!!!

    One of the best books of 2018!!!

  • Jennifer ~ TarHeelReader

    ⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ⭐

    When I saw Fruit of the Drunken Tree compared to Isabel Allende and Gabriel Garcia Marquez, I knew it was a must-read for my list.

    Ingrid Rojas Contreras’ debut is set in Colombia in the 1990s. It is focused on the Santiago family living in Bogota in a gated community. Gates are necessary because of the extreme political unrest in the country at the time. While the children are insulated from the world, just outside those protective bars are kidnappi

    ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️

    When I saw Fruit of the Drunken Tree compared to Isabel Allende and Gabriel Garcia Marquez, I knew it was a must-read for my list.

    Ingrid Rojas Contreras’ debut is set in Colombia in the 1990s. It is focused on the Santiago family living in Bogota in a gated community. Gates are necessary because of the extreme political unrest in the country at the time. While the children are insulated from the world, just outside those protective bars are kidnappings, bombings, and other violence, all at the hands and orders of a drug lord named Pablo Escobar.

    A new housekeeper, Petrona, is hired by the mother, Chula Santiago, and Petrona has been living in a guerrilla-occupied slum. Petrona is overburdened working to care for her family, while also being pulled by love to the “wrong side,” the dangerous side. Both Chula and Petrona’s families are seeking stability and safety in a time of outright upheaval and abject terror.

    The author was inspired by her own life in her writing of Fruit of the Drunken Tree. Rojas Contreras uses the voices of Chula and Petrona as her narrators to capture the essence of the disparities between their lives and their means to survive. Chula and Petrona will be forced to make incomprehensible choices in their desire to keep their families intact.

    Overall, Rojas Contreras’ writing is exquisite. The contrast between the beauty of the area and the horrific violence and turmoil is executed with sensitivity. Like I mentioned above, I was very much looking forward to reading this book, and it most certainly delivered in its storytelling.

    Thank you to Doubleday for the complimentary copy to review. All opinions are my own. The Fruit of the Drunken Tree will be published on July 31, 2018.

    My reviews can also be found on my blog:

  • Dorie  - Traveling Sister :)

    *NOW AVAILABLE*

    First of all I think I’m in love with the cover of this book, what gorgeous color and pop this cover has! However the seeds from the “Drunken Tree” were used in making a very dangerous drug called “burundanga” used by many criminals in Bogota. “Victims who reported being drugged with burundanga woke up with no memory of sometimes assisting in the looting of their own apartments and bank accounts, opening their wallets and handing over everything, but that’s exactly what they had d

    *NOW AVAILABLE*

    First of all I think I’m in love with the cover of this book, what gorgeous color and pop this cover has! However the seeds from the “Drunken Tree” were used in making a very dangerous drug called “burundanga” used by many criminals in Bogota. “Victims who reported being drugged with burundanga woke up with no memory of sometimes assisting in the looting of their own apartments and bank accounts, opening their wallets and handing over everything, but that’s exactly what they had done”. So strong was the fruit of the Drunken Tree!

    This novel is told from two perspectives. One of a young girl, Chula, living an easy going life in a grand house outside of Bogota, Colombia. At the time of the story she is age seven with an older sister, Cassandra, age nine. The family live in a gated community because there is so much gang activity and crime outside the area. They are quite isolated and play together, go to school on a bus and only shop in the few stores near their home.

    The mother and wife in the story, Senora Santiago, was herself from a poor family but married a man who worked for an oil company. He was seldom home as he had to travel a great deal for his job. Mama was constantly trying to hire a live in maid for their home but they usually only lasted a few months. She felt it was her way of helping the less fortunate by trying to hire the girls from destitute families.Petrona was the newest maid she hired and is introduced at the beginning of the story.

    Petrona tells the novel from her perspective. She is a very poor girl age thirteen who is required to work to try to support her large family at home. Her mother has become somewhat ill and much is expected of Petrona. Her older brothers have already joined the guerillas with much shame brought to the family. Despite warnings from her own family and Senora Santiago she is taken in by the attentions of a drug dealer, Gorrion. In the beginning he is attentive and charming but it is soon obvious why he is interested in Petrona.

    I will leave you to discover the rest of this story of how many of the wealthy in Colombia got out and began to seek asylum in other countries including the United States. “The historical timeline between 1989 and 1994 was used sequentially, but time was compressed as the emotional timeline of the book required”. Pablo Escobar and his revolutionaries were coming into power and the police were corrupt.

    Sadly this isn’t the first story of a country held hostage by drug cartels or revolutionaries and it reminds me of a book I read quite some time ago titled “Waiting For Snow in Havana:Confessions of a Cuban Boy” by Carlo Eire. If you enjoyed this book you might want to look into that novel which was quite well written.

    At the end the author shares the fact that most of the story is indeed based on her own and her family’s life experiences. It is a very interesting footnote to the story.

    While I enjoyed this historical novel I did feel that it dragged a little in the middle and I would have enjoyed further development of characters. This is a debut novel and I look forward to more from this talented author.

    I received an ARC of this novel from the publisher through Edelweiss.

  • Trudie

    Reviewing this book is particularly tough because despite really enjoying this, there remains this niggling feeling it could have been sensational if Contreras had worked out a few kinks first before embarking on such an ambitious debut. That may not be a fair criticism since writers need to start somewhere, right ? However, the meat of this story has so much potential that I was a little disappointed it didn't all work seamlessly. Despite these misgivings I am convinced

    Reviewing this book is particularly tough because despite really enjoying this, there remains this niggling feeling it could have been sensational if Contreras had worked out a few kinks first before embarking on such an ambitious debut. That may not be a fair criticism since writers need to start somewhere, right ? However, the meat of this story has so much potential that I was a little disappointed it didn't all work seamlessly. Despite these misgivings I am convinced

    can hold it's own with other headlining debut novels such as

    and

    .

    Partly based on Contreras own experiences growing up in Colombia during the reign of Pablo Escobar, this added authenticity makes for a sobering read. While not specifically a story of the Colombian drug war, almost everything that happens is a consequence of it. I found plenty of resonance here with the TV show

    also set in Bogota and covering many of the incidents that form the historical backdrop to this novel.

    In a way this is a "coming of age" novel narrated in turns by 7 year old Chula and her maid Petrona, who comes from the

    ( Colombias version of slums). This is a journey to adulthood that navigates the dangers of kidnappers, car bombings, gangs, random blackouts and grinding poverty.

    Chula recounting the headlines associated with her childhood -

    This is an excellent exploration of the longterm effects of political unrest on children, the normalisation of violence and the physical and emotional toll it exacts. Chula's morbid fascination with death ( she gets particularly focused on a child's leg she witnesses' on the news ) didn't seem age appropriate at first but I came to the conclusion that it would be almost impossible to live in Colombia at this time and protect your children from this information. For example, there is a scene where Chula and her sister are playing with Barbies dolls that have lost arms or legs, (Chula's sister likes to chew them off) and they devise an entire narrative where the limbless Barbies form paramilitary groups, it was macabre and chilling to read this as child's play and yet entirely believable.

    Undoubtedly some editorial excisions could have been made that would have improved the flow of the narrative, it

    have a rambling tendency and sometimes the momentum of key scenes is squandered. Although not a translated novel, occasionally I thought the author couldn't quite find the exact words she wanted to use in English and this resulted in some clunky phrasing. Ultimately, these niggles didn't bother me as I was just so entranced by Chula and Petrona's entwined stories.

    requires patience but if you have any interest in Colombia then I highly recommend it.

  • Nenia ✨ Queen of Literary Trash, Protector of Out-of-Print Gems, Khaleesi of Bodice Rippers, Mother of Smut, the Unrepentant, Breaker of Convention ✨ Campbell

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    I wonder about Goodreads users sometimes. People will pile on to heap praises about one book in particular while utterly ignoring brilliant contributions to the literary canon like this. I almost didn't read this book because it was such a wild card - and

    . In many ways, FRUIT OF THE DRUNKEN TREE explores similar themes to other women-centered works of literary fiction like

    or

    . The

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    I wonder about Goodreads users sometimes. People will pile on to heap praises about one book in particular while utterly ignoring brilliant contributions to the literary canon like this. I almost didn't read this book because it was such a wild card - and

    . In many ways, FRUIT OF THE DRUNKEN TREE explores similar themes to other women-centered works of literary fiction like

    or

    . The book is set in Colombia in the early 1990s, when the cocaine lord Pablo Escobar held most of the political and economic power, and the wealth disparity led many low income individuals to support and encourage the gruesome violence of the

    .

    There are two narrators. Chula, who along with her mother and older sister, is a member of the middle class in Colombia. By our standards, they don't have much, but when people across the city are living in shacks without electricity or running water, they seem very wealthy. The other narrator is Petrona, who is their maid. She lives in one of those shacks, called

    , and is working to support her family in the absence of a real provider.

    FRUIT OF THE DRUNKEN TREE, which is another name for the Angel's Trumpet flower, navigates the rocky political landscape of a country ruled by criminals, in a time of great inequality and political upheaval. The author brings up many great points about morality, and how it is easy to claim the high ground when you aren't starving. The people in Petrona's region, and many like it, were failed by the government, so men like Escobar who flashed cash and supplied jobs to boys and young men as runners and para-military, could seem like saviors, even if what they were doing was terrible in the big picture, because of the way he indirectly helped to bolster their economy. Chula's family, on the other hand, can afford to think big picture, and her mother was in favor of the liberal politician and reformist, Luis Carlos Galán, who wanted to end the corruption and drug running.

    I really loved this story and thought that the author did a great job giving voice to Chula and Petrona. Both of them were very different girls, from different walks of life, and the author was very careful not to be preachy, or take sides. When Colombia is mentioned in fiction, it's generally portrayed as some grandiose,

    -esque locale that features glamorized portrayals of crime. This book, on the other hand, is influenced by the author's childhood memories of growing up in Bogotá during this time and seeing these kidnappings, rebellions, bombings, murders, and criminality firsthand. The focus on the relationship of these girls in the face of adversity was reminiscent of GIRLS BURN BRIGHTER, but this wasn't quite as gruesomely awful as GIRLS BURN BRIGHTER, and in my opinion, has a much happier ending, even if it isn't exactly a gleaming pot of sunshine.

    Ingrid Rojas Contreras is clearly an author to watch. I can't wait to see what she puts out next.

    4 to 4.5 stars

  • PorshaJo

    Sometimes we are drawn to books by the cover, by the name, or even just the description. Well, it could also be the author too. But when I saw the name of this book, I was hooked. I knew I wanted to read it. Then, I saw it was about Columbia and Pablo Escobar and I immediately went to my library to grab it.

    It tells the story of one family living in Bogota and their maid. Oh yeah, and in the world of Pablo Escobar. The story alternates between the young girl in the family, Chula, and their live-

    Sometimes we are drawn to books by the cover, by the name, or even just the description. Well, it could also be the author too. But when I saw the name of this book, I was hooked. I knew I wanted to read it. Then, I saw it was about Columbia and Pablo Escobar and I immediately went to my library to grab it.

    It tells the story of one family living in Bogota and their maid. Oh yeah, and in the world of Pablo Escobar. The story alternates between the young girl in the family, Chula, and their live-in also very young maid, Petrona. The story is fiction but weaves in details of real life such as the terror placed upon people in Columbia by Pablo Escobar, the murder of an upcoming politician, and the violence that was part of every day life in Columbia in the early 90's. You could trust no one. Kidnappings were something that happened on a daily basis. Adults were taken by guerrillas. Little Chula wanted to go out one day wearing her hair in a pony tail but her mother screamed at her how easy it would be for someone to grab her by her pony tail and kidnap her. There was fear and poverty everywhere. And little Chula was obsessed with Pablo Escobar, especially after seeing what remained of a recent car bomb in her neighborhood. Eventually, they flee to the United States for safety, becoming refugees.

    After all that...I found it just OK. The story could have condensed and tightened up quite a bit. There was way too much wandering going on. Sometimes I got confused a bit what was going on. I listened to the audio version and will only say I did not like it. I grabbed the print in the end. It seemed a bit slow to me at many times. I'm glad to read something that takes place (mostly) in Columbia, a place I don't think I have encountered in my reading. The author wrote this book, using part of what happened to her as a small child growing up in Columbia. I just think I expected more from this one after I read the description.

  • Brina

    Buddy read in group Reading for Pleasure, review to follow when buddy read over.

    4 stars for story

    3 stars for prose

    3.5 stars overall

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