A review by abbie_
Cantoras, by Carolina De Robertis

challenging emotional hopeful reflective medium-paced
  • Strong character development? Yes
  • Loveable characters? Yes
  • Diverse cast of characters? Yes
  • Flaws of characters a main focus? Yes


I always find it difficult to write reviews for books I love the most! It's impossible to form coherent sentences for a book that lodged itself right in your very soul. I had a feeling I'd love this one but for some reason put off buying it - until @allegedlymari's post likening it to a glass of the finest wine. I don't like wine, but if this book WERE wine, I'd never drink anything else.
Cantoras is set in Uruguay in 1977 under the military government and spanning decades. When I finished it I could barely believe it had only been 312 pages. De Robertis' prose is so rich and the characters undergo so much development that I felt like I'd read a 700 page novel about them - except I devoured it in 2 days. I tried to savour it, I really did, but these women had me in their grip and would not let go.
Romina, Flaca, La Venus, Malena and Paz are five of the most exquisite characters I've ever had the pleasure of reading. Five queer women trying to live their lives under a dictatorship that would punish them for who they are if they were ever found out. Together they carve out a tiny oasis at the coast, in a ramshackle beach hut where they can truly be themselves, as friends, lovers and family. I could have read an entire book of De Robertis just describing the scenery at Cabo Polonio in all of its wild, aching beauty.
There's a quote on the back from Jacqueline Woodson saying she was 'lifted, then gently set down again - either through tears, rage or laughter', which is just 1000% accurate. De Robertis takes us on such an intense journey of emotions, ranging from sorrow to anger and frustration to pure joy and happiness. I'm rarely moved to tears by a book but Cantoras got me twice. And one of those times were tears of JOY, okay. Yes, I've been made to cry by a sad book a few times, but few books have made me weep literal tears because I was so happy for a character.
I've also never read a book set in Uruguay, so I learned a lot too! Read this book to fall completely in love with the characters, but learn a little history too! This book is one of my 2020 favourites - please read it!