This was a very Chilean book.

The basic plot is as follows:

In part 1, the 1985 earthquake has just struck Chile, and a young boy befriends a young girl who asks him to spy on her uncle.

In part 2, the main character is the author of part 1. He struggles with his own broken marriage as well as figuring out his place in his family.

Part 3 follows the boy from part 1 in his adulthood, and part 4 follows the man from part 2 as he finishes his novel.

The writing is good. The story is simple, but reaches deep. This is a very good window into Chilean culture and some of the problems that Chileans have to deal with today. Everyone in Chile who is my age has grown up with democracy and a pendulum-like power balance between the left and right political parties. Their parents however, have lived through a dictatorship, a coup, and another dictatorship. These situations are difficult to understand if they haven’t been lived through, and Alejandro Zambra pushes through those layers of questions, albeit never reaching solid answers. Everyone has to find those for themselves.

A beautiful coming-of-age novel that has more language and racy content than I prefer.

4/5 stars. Buy it here.