cover image On a Night of a Thousand Stars

On a Night of a Thousand Stars

Andrea Yaryura Clark. Grand Central, $28 (352p) ISBN 978-1-538-72029-5

Yaryura Clark’s stirring if uneven debut sheds light on the atrocities committed by the Argentine Anticommunist Alliance during the Dirty War, from 1974–1983. A drunken serenade in Argentina during the summer of ’73 is enough to transcend class differences and ignite the spark between rich law student Santiago Larrea, who’s keen to inherit his family’s agriculture and estate business, and middle-class Valentina Quintero, who came to Buenos Aires to study architecture. Fast-forward to 1998, and Santiago is in New York City, soon to be appointed ambassador to the U.S.; he’s married to another woman, and they have a daughter named Paloma. After Paloma meets a former colleague of Santiago’s who shares details about Valentina, Paloma is moved to find out more about her father. With the help of an activist seeking justice for the family members of the desaparecidos, she delves into Argentina’s and her family’s tumultuous history. Santiago’s vacillation between Lila and Valentina can sometimes overshadow the political intrigue, and the author devotes too much time to Santiago’s messy love life. Paloma’s determination to dig up her past and the haunting accounts of the victims of a cruel regime, though, will take readers by storm. Magnetic and revelatory, this one is imperfect if hard to put down. Agent: Johanna V. Castillo, Writers House. (Mar.)