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In Perfect Light: A Novel

In Perfect Light: A Novel
Author: Benjamin Alire Saenz
ISBN 13: 9780060779214
ISBN 10: 60779217
Edition: Reprint
Publisher: Harper Perennial
Publication Date: 2008-11-25
Format: Paperback
Pages: 352
List Price: $14.99

From award-winning poet Benjamin Alire Sáenz comes In Perfect Light, a haunting novel depicting the cruelties of cultural displacement and the resilience of those who are left in its aftermath.

In Perfect Light is the story of two strong-willed people who are forever altered by a single tragedy. After Andés Segovia's parents are killed in a car accident when he is still a young boy, his older brother decides to steal the family away to Juárez, Mexico. That decision, made with the best intentions, sets into motion the unraveling of an American family.

Years later, his family destroyed, Andés is left to make sense of the chaos — but he is ill-equipped to make sense of his life. He begins a dark journey toward self-destruction, his talent and brilliance brought down by the weight of a burden too frightening and maddening to bear alone. The manifestation of this frustration is a singular rage that finds an outlet in a dark and seedy El Paso bar — leading him improbably to Grace Delgado.

Recently confronted with her own sense of isolation and mortality, Grace is an unlikely angel, a therapist who agrees to treat Andés after he is arrested in the United States. The two are suspicious of each other, yet they slowly arrive at a tentative working relationship that allows each of them to examine his and her own fragile and damaged past. Andés begins to confront what lies behind his own violence, and Grace begins to understand how she has contributed to her own self-exile and isolation. What begins as an intriguing favor to a friend becomes Grace's lifeline — even as secrets surrounding the death of Andés' parents threaten to strain the connection irreparably.

With the urgent, unflinching vision of a true storyteller and the precise, arresting language of a poet, Sáenz's In Perfect Light bears witness to the cruelty of circumstance and, more than offering escape, the novel offers the possibility of salvation.

Publishers Weekly

A poet, children's book author, former priest and author of House of Forgetting, Saenz returns with the gut-wrenching drama of a Mexican-American family's dissolution. Ten-year-old Andres Segovia sees his life ripped apart after his parents are killed in an El Paso auto accident. Older brother Mando steals Andres and his sisters, Yolie and Ileana, away from their comfortable American foster home to a dismal life across the bridge in Juarez, Mexico, in a misguided attempt to preserve the family. The Juarez of the dispossessed is more or less lawless; it is also the favored destination of paroled American child molestors, a premise on which the story turns. Andres, returning alone to El Paso a hardened and cynical young adult with violent tendencies, is counseled by therapist Grace Delgado, a single parent newly diagnosed with breast cancer; her son, with whom she has unresolved problems (and who is playfully named "Mister") is Andres's age. As Grace slowly and painfully unearths the story of Andres's tragic childhood, the two grow close, but it soon becomes clear that her life, Mister's and Andres's have crossed before. Despite telegraphing the plot, Saenz offers beautifully nuanced characterization, and interweaves disparate needs and lives with a skillful, sensitive touch. (Aug.) Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information.