Perpetual West, a review by Tanya

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Perpetual WestPerpetual West
by Mesha Maren

384 pages
Publishing Jan 25th, 2022 by Algonquin Books


About the Book:

The riveting, brilliant new novel by the critically-acclaimed author of Sugar RunPerpetual West is a brilliant and evocative story of borders—between the United States and Mexico, between lovers, and between facets of the self.

When Alex and Elana move from smalltown Virginia to El Paso, they are just a young married couple, intent on a new beginning. Mexican by birth but adopted by white American Pentecostal parents, Alex is hungry to learn about the place where he was born. He spends every free moment across the border in Juárez—perfecting his Spanish, hanging with a collective of young activists, and studying lucha libre (Mexican wrestling) for his graduate work in sociology. Meanwhile Elana, busy fighting her own demons, feels disillusioned by academia and has stopped going to class. And though they are best friends, Elana has no idea that Alex has fallen in love with Mateo, a lucha libre fighter.

When Alex goes missing and Elana can’t determine whether he left of his own accord or was kidnapped, it’s clear that neither of them has been honest about who they are. Spanning their journey from Virginia to Texas to Mexico, Mesha Maren’s thrilling follow-up to Sugar Run takes us from missionaries to wrestling matches to a luxurious cartel compound, and deep into the psychic choices that shape our identities. A sweeping novel that tells us as much about our perceptions of the United States and Mexico as it does about our own natures and desires, Perpetual West is a fiercely intelligent and engaging look at the false divide between high and low culture, and a suspenseful story of how harrowing events can bring our true selves to the surface.

My Review:

A complex book, multiple characters, cross-relationships, LGBTQ+ characters, lucha libre backgrounds and interesting US/Mexican border stories.

There was a lot going on in this story. I didn’t always follow along with the storyline but what I really enjoyed was that it was definitely a new experience for me, reading wise as I wouldn’t normally have picked this one up on my own.

Thank you to Algonquin Books for this gifted book that allowed me to step out of my comfort zone a bit.  All opinions expressed are my own.

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