From the very first page of “Prayers for the Stolen”, Jennifer Clement grabs the reader and does not let go. This is the story of a young Mexican girl, Ladydi Garcia Martinez, growing up in a rural mountain village of Guerrero. The men have left to seek a better life in America. The women are left behind to raise their families and contend with the daily threats of drug traffickers who control the region. The girls are either disguised as boys or made ugly in order to avoid being stolen. Mothers dig holes in the ground for their daughters to hide in at the first hint of an approaching vehicle. It’s a life of constant fear. Hiding in a hole saves Ladydi but not her friend, Paula who is snatched from her home by a drug lord and is missing for over a year.
“Prayers for the Stolen” follows Ladydi throughout her adolescence from her mountain village to a mansion in the hopes of becoming a nanny and then to women’s prison. Clement shines a light on a very stark reality in Mexico. Young women and teenage girls are stolen from their schools, homes and public places to become slave mistresses for drug lords or sexually trafficked to other countries. Most are never seen again. The girls in Prayers for the Stolen mutilate their arms with cigarette burns so “if we’re found dead someplace, everyone will know we were stolen”.
Clement grew up in Mexico, finished her education in the United States and currently lives in Mexico City. She knows the reality for Mexican women. Clement’s books, three novels and several books of poetry have been translated in over 20 languages. She has written a harrowing tale with a poet’s prose. This book compelling, engaging and will break your heart.