Perpetual West

Algonquin. Jan. 2022. 384p. ISBN 9781643750941. $26.95. F
In this follow-up to her auspicious debut, Sugar Run, Thomas Wolfe Fiction Prize winner Maren offers a layered look at issues of identity via young married couple Alex and Elana, who have moved from small-town Virginia to El Paso. Mexican-born Alex, who was adopted at a young age by a conservative Christian couple in the United States, regularly travels across the border to Juárez to learn more about his heritage while researching a graduate school thesis on Mexican professional wrestling, or lucha libre. College student Elana becomes disaffected, an outsider to Alex’s personal journey and desperate not to define herself in terms of him: “It was about having him not be a part of the mold around her, the form to fit her in.” After a visit to her family, Elana returns home to discover that Alex is missing. She learns that Alex has fallen in love with a lucha libre fighter and landed in a dangerous situation that ends in a scary ride for him, his lover Mateo, and Maren’s readers.
VERDICT Maren’s richly rendered work is distinctive in its exploration of multiple issues of identity at once, teasing out an understanding of pressing cultural, sexual, and personal conundrums with characters who remain consistent and relatable even as they are in the throes of redefining themselves.
Comment Policy:
  • Be respectful, and do not attack the author, people mentioned in the article, or other commenters. Take on the idea, not the messenger.
  • Don't use obscene, profane, or vulgar language.
  • Stay on point. Comments that stray from the topic at hand may be deleted.
  • Comments may be republished in print, online, or other forms of media.
  • If you see something objectionable, please let us know. Once a comment has been flagged, a staff member will investigate.



We are currently offering this content for free. Sign up now to activate your personal profile, where you can save articles for future viewing