Karen (Gilbert AZ)
Like a chicken and a goose
In Maria's words, the two main characters are like a chicken and a goose--too
different to ever truly understand each other.
Although some readers may be drawn to the title for the promise of an exotic variation on Lolita, and for the drama inherent in this unlikely pairing, this is less a story about romance than it is a story about consequences and inevitability.
I enjoyed the first half much more than the second half. The second half wavers:
the combination of voodoo, misunderstandings stopping just short of the feverish
pitch reached in the film The War of the Roses, and an attempted suicide scene may strain believability. There's a sense that, for all we've read about the main
characters, we haven't come to know them well enough to truly understand them.
Maria's past, with its difficulties, is implied as the reason for her present-day
desire for security, but it may come across as too simplistic.
Still, the book is recommended for fans of Maria Arana's previous book American Chica. Lima Nights explores similar themes from another angle, such as the duality present in the city, from the guarded streets of the wealthy to the corrugated rooftops in the shanty towns. The ability to navigate these social worlds with a clear, accomplished writing style made this a compelling enough book to read in one sitting.