BookWoman Book Group Discussion

PRAYERS FOR THE STOLEN was awarded the National Endowment of the Arts (NEA) Fellowship for Literature as well as the Sara Curry Humanitarian Award. Clement lives in Mexico City and was President of PEN Mexico from 2009 to 2012.

In Clement’s powerful new novel, Prayers for the Stolen, Ladydi Garcia Martinez tells the story of how she grew up in a remote Mexican mountain village disguised as a boy. This was to ensure that the marauding gangs of drug dealers believed that the village was populated solely by adult women and young boys. No men and absolutely no pretty young girls. It’s a survival strategy that works only marginally well. When it doesn’t work, well, it’s bad. It seems as if these thugs are always lurking, always hovering over villages, always ready to kidnap young, lovely girls. Ironically, it is the lure of this gang life or the flimsy promise of making it in the U.S. that has induced the men of Ladydi’s village to leave. And so her History Channel–educated mother does the best she can with whatever meager means are available to raise and protect her daughter in this tenuous, matriarchal culture. It is her mother’s pliable morality that defines her character and in a paradoxical way arms Ladydi to survive in modern Mexico. Clement’s deft first-person narrative style imbues authenticity to her depiction of a world turned upside down by drug cartels, police corruption, and American exploitation. --Donna Chavez 

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