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September 2021

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Elena Knows by Claudia Piñeiro

Written by , Posted in Reviews

Four Stars

Best for:
People who enjoy mysteries but who are also interested in deeper writing and social commentary.

In a nutshell:
Elena’s daughter Rita was found dead, hanging from the bell tower of their church. It is determined to be suicide, but Elena knows otherwise.

Worth quoting:
“She continues on, as if no one else existed, just like she feels no one else knows she exists.”

“Not long ago I was told I was arrogant. Don’t keep the names other people give you.”

Why I chose it:
This was another recommendation from my book spa day, and I’m so happy it was recommended to me, as I don’t think I would have come across it otherwise.

Review:
Elena has Parkinson’s. She can’t move her neck up, so her view when she is walking, or sitting, is basically the lower half of what most of us see. She doesn’t have tremors, but she isn’t able to move without assistance from medication, and the book is broken up across the four pills she takes during the day, as they kick in and then wear off. She meticulously plans her movements and day based on whether she’ll be able to walk.

And today is a big day. Elena has big plans, though we don’t learn exactly what they are until the end of the book. Her daughter Rita, who lived with and helped Elena with her personal care needs, was found dead a few weeks ago. She was found hanging in the church bell tower right before an evening mass, during a rain storm. To everyone else, it is clear that Rita died by suicide. But Elena knows something else: Rita was terrified of lightning, specifically of the church tower being struck by lightning during a rain storm. She never went to church when it was raining. So clearly, something else is up.

Throughout the fairly short book, we learn a bit about who Rita was, Rita and Elena’s relationship, and how Elena’s illness affects Elena’s life and Rita’s life. But it is all through Elena’s lens, so the question becomes – how much does Elena really know about Rita?

The book looks at a lot of issues that other ‘mystery novels’ don’t tend to dive into – primarily, what do our bodies mean to us, and how much control do we have. Should we have. And how much do other people seek to control us?

Recommend to a Friend / Donate it / Toss it:
Recommend to a Friend

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