On a Night of a Thousand Stars

Grand Central. Mar. 2022. 352p. ISBN 9781538720295. $28. F
DEBUT In her vividly rendered debut, Clark uses fiction to explore what happened to the children of the estimated 30,000 individuals who were disappeared, tortured, and killed during Argentina’s Dirty War in the 1970s. Paloma, the U.S.-born daughter of wealthy Argentine businessman-turned-diplomat Santiago Larrea, is visiting Argentina with her extended family in the late 1990s when she begins learning about these children. A chance discovery tying her father to the author Martín Torres has led her to the Human Rights Center, where she encounters the determined young Franco and is introduced to H.I.J.O.S., an acronym for Sons and Daughters for Identity and Justice Against Oblivion and Silence. (Herself from an Argentine family but partly U.S.-raised, Clark also returned to Argentina in the 1990s and began learning about these children while working as a television producer.) Paloma must now take a closer look at her own history, and as the narrative cuts swiftly between the 1970s and the 1990s, she discovers shocking truths about her father, his activities during the Dirty War, and a woman he loved named Valentina, whose gutsiness nicely mirrors Paloma’s own.
VERDICT Both heartbreaking and race-to-the-end suspenseful, as secrets will out that starkly reveal the tragedy of Argentina’s Dirty War.
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