The Divine Boys by Laura Restrepo (trns Carolina De Robertis)

Today it is my pleasure to share my thoughts on The Divine Boys by Laura Restrepo. My thanks got to Kealey Rigden at FMcM Associates for inviting me to review and publishers, Amazon Crossing, for providing a copy of the book. Here’s what it’s all about:

Source: Advance Reader Copy

About the Book

From acclaimed Colombian author Laura Restrepo comes a prize-winning novel inspired by a true crime that shattered a community and exposed the dark recesses of toxic masculinity and privilege.

Immune to the consequences of immorality, five privileged young men in Bogotá bond over a shared code: worship drugs and drink, exploit women, and scorn the underclass.

As males, they declare the right to freedom of pleasure. As friends, only disloyalty to each other is forbidden. When a little girl from the slums disappears, the limits of a perverse and sacred bond will be tested in ways none of them could have imagined.

Hauntingly true, this daringly told work of fiction explores the tragic dynamic between genders, social classes, and victim and victimizer, and between five men whose intolerable transgressions will shake the conscience of a country.

Available from: Amazon | Waterstones

My Thoughts

I’m always keen to discover new authors and my love of fiction in translation is definitely growing the more I read. With The Divine Boys by Laura Restrepo I am taking my first foray into Columbian literature and what a journey I have just been on.

I should probably start by saying that while none of the most difficult parts of this book really take place on the page, there is little doubt about what has happened and the heart wrenching and awful truth about the atrocities inflicted upon a very young girl, so if this is the kind of thing that really triggers you, you may not want to read. The sad thing is that this is exactly the kind of thing that happens all too often, in it is a fictionalised account of a true story. But this is not a book just about child abuse, this is the story of five men who have grown up together – The Divine Boys. Moving from the cock of the walk at school through to adulthood, they still demand the same attention, loyalty and success that they have always enjoyed. Imagine Columbia’s answer to the three musketeers, but with a dark side. A very dark side.

Narrated by one of the five, Hobbo – the least successful and affluent of them all – it charts the final days in the groups friendship when one of them, their leader takes his sense of entitlement one step too far testing the loyalty of his friends and changing their futures irrevocably. It is a beautifully literary piece, told through a combination of memories of their childhood together, and a charting of current events, as Hobbo introduces us to each of the five key characters. Hobbo the outsider. The man who hovers on the periphery, eternally grateful to be included but knowing deep down the limitations of their friendship.

This is not a long book and at times it is very uncomfortable to read but I did like the author’s writing style, the lyrical way in which the narrative plays out, often contrasting with the harsh nature of what is happening on the page. She has captured the attitudes of the five characters perfectly, the way they act – from arrogance and nonchalance, through to reticence and regret, really highlighting the difference between those who have everything and the family of the victim who has nothing. That sense of believing they are untouchable. The disposable nature of their friendship in order to protect those with the most money and influence. I can’t say that I liked any of the five, they are all deplorable in their own way and I did wonder whether anyone of them should foreseen what was going to happen. Hobbo was able to retain a little element of humanity, just a scrap, which made it easier to take the journey with him as he navigates the rapid erosion of their bond and the interwoven betrayals that occur.

A tough and yet authentic character study which is definitely recommended. It’s a challenging read for many reasons but I am still glad I took a chance to try something new.

About the Author

Laura Restrepo was born in Bogotá, Colombia. She has written numerous bestselling and prize-winning novels, including Leopard in the Sun, The Angel of Galilea, and Delirium. Her books have been published in over twenty languages.

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