The Disappeared

Blackstone. Jul. 2024. 272p. ISBN 9798212385367. $27.99. F
DEBUT Sanford’s first novel is a fast-paced exploration of responsibility, accountability, and activism in tumultuous times. In Argentina in 1976, when Lorena Ledesma and her husband become two of the thousands of disappeared people who have been imprisoned by the country’s military dictatorship, it is up to her mother, Esme, to care for their young son and try to find them. Esme joins an underground group of mothers and grandmothers who dare to speak out about the spreading injustice, even as they also risk imprisonment. Decades later, in 2005 New York City, grown adoptee Rachel Sprague’s search for her biological family reveals a connection to the Disappeared. This revelation throws her adoptive family into emotional turmoil. Sanford’s character-driven novel focuses on the strength of real-life mothers and children of Argentina’s Disappeared, and the straightforward writing and plot make the novel accessible to readers unfamiliar with the subject matter. Sanford neither goes into vivid detail nor shies away from the brutality inflicted upon those imprisoned, all while showcasing the dangers of fighting to save and honor the Disappeared.
VERDICT A must-read for historical fiction fans and a real-world cautionary tale of complacency and tyranny.
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