The Tree of Red Stars
A vivid, unforgettable journey through a time and a world that is closer than we realize, from a writer who “brings a fresh voice to Latin American literature” (New York Times).
Magda’s childhood in 1960s Montevideo, the capital of Uruguay, is one of small pleasures: sitting beneath the poinsettia tree in her yard, meeting her friends by the banks of the Río de la Plata, and learning the rules that her culture ordains for young women of privilege. But as Magda grows up, her comfortable world becomes frightening. Her government increasingly turns on its own people in both subtle and overt acts of terror, and soon Magda’s family and friends come under threat.
Sent to the United States for a year of school, Magda realizes how her own passivity has contributed to the fear that now grips her country. The events she experiences after her return to Montevideo give her the courage to join the underground struggle against the government—a fateful decision that draws not only her, but all those around her, into unexpected danger.
Full of rich detail, moving characterizations, and political intrigue, The Tree of Red Stars is both a tender story of love and friendship and a terrifying, personal look at a country—and a way of life—under siege.
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Praise and Prizes
“Tessa Bridal brings a fresh voice to Latin American literature. . . . Bridal, who was born and raised in Uruguay, uses her book to present a harrowing account of that country’s takeover by a military dictatorship. . . . As The Tree of Red Stars proceeds, Bridal recounts Magda’s perilous activities with a chillingly understated sense of inevitability.”
“Suffused with the poignancy of a memorial to lost lives, this debut novel is an unblinking exploration of the way absolute power can destroy civilized existence. . . . Tessa Bridal’s understated prose permits large moments to occur without melodrama, and small ones to build into potent revelations.”
“Luminously written . . . Though the story that Magda tells on her return to Uruguay after seven years abroad in exile is primarily a love story, it is grounded in the revolutionary politics of a particular time. . . . Love and the past beautifully evoked in a faraway place.”
“A skillful, utterly engrossing portrait . . . The Tree of Red Stars is an unpredictable and exquisite story, its descriptions of endangered freedom and mental torture all the more chilling when one remembers its author, who now lives in Minnesota, grew up under the same circumstances as her protagonist.”
“This evocative novel is a moving account of a girl’s coming-of-age and awakening political consciousness.”