Iso is a young Guatemalan woman who has an affair with an American doctor in Guatemala. Iso become pregnant and at birth, her newborn daughter is taken away to America. So much of this book is about her travel to America as an undocumented person, to attempt to recover her daughter; the risks, acts of kindness and treachery, and the over-arching powerlessness. Given the world’s situation, understanding the plight of undocumented individuals is important. Lawrence Hill’s book The Illegal is better but Bergen’s novel is a worthwhile read.
This is an insightful and introspective book, typical of Bergen’s novels. The first part of the book is a perfect recounting of growing up in rural Alberta. Arthur describes his influences: isolation, books and school, religion, sibling rivalry, and conversations that leave much more unsaid than stated explicitly. The latter part of the book is a coming-of-age story in Paris. Just an excellent read.