In Ciao, Suerte, Annie McGreevy constructs a poignant, multi-narrative story that masterfully captures the tragic effects of Argentina's Dirty War on one family. It's 2003. Beatriz has finally tracked down her grandson, Miguel, after a decades-long search fueled by intuition and unwavering faith. Her determined pursuit began twenty three years earlier when her son and his pregnant wife were kidnapped and killed during the Dirty War for being members of the leftist guerrilla group known as the Montoneros.
About a decade into the search, Beatriz's husband has given up hope that the child survived and leaves his wife and his country for Italy to start a new life. His narration reveals his and Beatriz's heartbreaking struggle to conceive, adding to the sense of immediacy that's palpable in Beatriz's search for the youngest surviving member of her family.
We learn in flashbacks what became of Beatriz's son and daughter-in-law after they were kidnapped from the point of view of Eduardo, the lieutenant who arranged Miguel's illegal adoption, as he fondly reflects on his career while aging away in a retirement home. Cue the most graphic and unsettling scenes that come closest to explicitly denouncing the actions of the government during this state of terrorism.
Meanwhile, Miguel has been adopted by wealthy Patagonian parents and is visiting his adoptive brother in Madrid when Beatriz unexpectedly comes into his life. Somewhat ironically, an illicit blood test conducted by the Madres y Abuelas de la Plaza de Mayo leads Beatriz to the grandson who was stolen from his family.
Grounding the story in the events surrounding Argentina's oppressive regime during the Dirty War and their effects on one family, the novella explores both the political and the personal and how the two spheres intersect. McGreevy's novella ambitiously and gracefully tackles the struggle of a generation by depicting one family's story in detail.
The novella also explores the idea that each generation wields an influence on those that follow, even if that influence isn't perceived or acknowledged. The missing generation looms over the story until it tangibly manifests itself in the mannerisms, personality traits and physical likeness that Beatriz discovers in Miguel. Also, though Miguel always knew he was adopted, he's confronted with the mutability of his identity when he meets a direct blood relative.
In short, do not be deceived by the modest size of this novella. Though this powerful story resides in a humble format, it is an education to read Annie McGreevy's work, and I, for one, can't wait to see what she does next.