I have a soft spot for coming-of-age stories. I don’t have a good explanation for why those stories appeal to me as a reader. But, they do. When I found out about this first novel from Colombian author Gloria Susana Esquivel, I knew I had to read it.
Animals at the End of the World tells the story of a six-year-old girl named Ines growing up in a chaotic house she shares with her mother and grandparents. Ines has an active imagination like most girls her age and uses it to escape the simmering family tensions ready to explode at any time.
Ines meets another girl named Maria and the two form a friendship. At first, Ines comes to rely Maria’s boldness and curiosity as a source of strength in navigating her family dynamics. Also, Maria convinces Ines to leave the family house to see the animals that roam the Bogota streets.
Ines yearns to have a relationship with her father and imagines many scenarios where she could leave her home to live with him. He attempts to have a relationship with his daughter. However, he has own issues and will eventually disconnect from her.
Robin Myers translation reads like a page-turning thriller that I finished in two days. Animals at the End of World is a solid but heartbreaking novella of a young Colombian girl trying to find her way among people who love her but not connected to each other as one would hope for in a family.
I hope this novella finds an American audience and I’m looking forward to reading more of Gloria Susana Esquivel’s fiction translated in English.