Caroline is seven when her family flees Pinochet’s regime, leaving Chile for Montreal on Christmas Eve, 1986. She fears Santa won’t find them on the plane but wakes to find a new Barbie at her side, her mother preserving the holiday even amidst persecution and turmoil. It’s a symbol of care repeated throughout the relocation as her parents work tirelessly to provide the family with a new vision of the future.
Once in Canada, Caroline accompanies her parents as they clean banks at night; she experiences racist micro-aggressions at school, discovers Québécois popular culture, and explores her love of reading and writing in French. Slowly, the Andean peaks disappear from her drawings. As her family increases their wealth and status—moving to a better apartment every six months in Montreal’s working-class east-end neighbourhood and then a house in the suburbs—the fracture between her parents’ identity and her own grows. When Caroline realizes an apartment she’s partying in is one her mother cleans, the division between her parents’ life and her own becomes explicitly clear.
This expansive coming-of-age autobiographical novel probes the plurality of identity, elucidating the interwoven complexities of immigrating to a new country. As the Andes Disappeared tenderly reflects the journey of millions and is a beautiful ode to family commitment and the importance of home—however layered that may be.
Praise for As the Andes Disappeared:
“The power of this largely autobiographical novel lies in its refusal to let anger give rise to gratitude. Nor is gratitude permitted to soften the rage of knowing that the comfort of the rich continues to be built with the egregiously paid labour of those who cannot push back.” —Le Devoir
“There are books that make us better people, and Dawson’s is among them.” —Michel Marc Bouchard, le Combat national des livres de Radio-Canada
“When exactly does a child from Chile, an immigrant to Québec, cease including the Andes in the background of her drawings? What parts of us are erased as we construct our identities? With sensitivity, humour and engaging lucidity, Dawson’s autobiographical novel shows us that there are many lived realities and that it is essential to be attentive to everyone’s experience. To read As the Andes Disappeared is to acquire tools to understand the Other and to confront one’s own perceptions of society.” —Marc-Étienne Brien, Librairie Biblairie GGC
There are no reviews yet.