While Paraíso by Gordon Chaplin has its up and downs, along with some murders, at heart it is a story about the bond shared between a brother and sister.
The story is about two siblings, Peter and Wendy. If you immediately thought about Peter Pan after hearing these two names, then good for you, as the classic tale does have a connection here. Peter was his mother’s favorite while she seemed to have hated Wendy. The fact that Wendy and her mother didn’t share a healthy relationship also plays a role in shaping Wendy as she grew older. But I’ll get to that in a bit.
Though there was a difference between how they were treated by their mother, both Wendy and Peter shared a strong bond. They decide to run away to Mexico together but a turn of events stops them from completing their journey. Over the years they become estranged. Wendy becomes a sports photographer and Peter becomes an editor living in New York.
Upon receiving an invitation, Wendy decides to drive to Mexico. Her car breaks down near a small town named Paraíso, and she gets into trouble. That’s the thing about Wendy, due to her upbringing she’s always looking for trouble. I guess she wants to fill a void she feels inside of her, or she just thinks she’s not worthy of being truly loved. She begins an affair with a psychopath and becomes a witness to a horrible crime, etc. It is just bad.
Over in New York, we find Peter thinking about Wendy and wanting to mend things with her sister. Peter witnesses the Twin Towers falling during the September 11th terrorist attack. He’s suffering from a back spasm so the whole thing reads a bit like dark humor.
The story is divided into four parts. The perspective also changes. Peter’s story is told in first person while Wendy’s is in third person singular. The shift in perspectives might take some time getting used to for some readers.
In the end, Paraíso is a story about a strong bond shared between two siblings. Even though they didn’t make the journey to Mexico back when they were young, they were able to complete it years later. There are murders in the story but it isn’t a murder mystery per se. It is more about love and forgiveness.
Have you read Paraíso by Gordon Chaplin yet? Let us know.
Note: I received a review copy of Paraíso.
Farid has a Double Masters in Psychology and Biotechnology as well as an M.Phil in Molecular Genetics. He is the author of numerous books including Missing in Somerville, and The Game Master of Somerville. He gives us insight into comics, books, TV shows, anime/manga, video games, and movies.
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