Book Spotlight (and a Giveaway!): When We Return by Eliana Tobias

Posted June 25, 2022 by meezcarrie in contemporary, giveaway, historical / 23 Comments

I found the concept of this story to be fascinating, particularly with my heart-connection to Peru, the author’s own personal connection to these events, and my brother & SIL’s recent trip there (where they were nearly delayed in returning home because of riots.)

WHEN WE RETURN by Eliana Tobias
GENRE: Multicultural Fiction (Mainstream)
PUBLISHER: River Grove Books
RELEASE DATE: May 17, 2022
PAGES: 297

Who should be held responsible for public wrongs?

By 2008, it finally seems that the Peruvian government is ready to make amends to its citizens following the violent guerilla movement of the last three decades.

Otilia and Salvador, a mother and son torn apart during the conflict and separated for twenty years, are eager for the government to acknowledge their pain and suffering, but they hit a roadblock when the government denies responsibility in their legal case.

Things begin to look up when Otilia meets Jerry, a kind man and the son of Jewish parents who escaped the Holocaust. Grappling with his own upbringing and the psychological struggles his parents endured, Jerry is just the person to empathize with Otilia’s situation. Together, Otilia, Jerry, and Salvador must support one another through the turbulent journey that is healing from historical trauma, and through it, they must find the courage to rebuild their lives and open themselves up to love and companionship.

Artfully weaving together different timelines and countries, Tobias examines the nuanced topic of grief a community endures after a collective tragedy. In this exploration of the culture of remembrance following displacement and loss, we discover what happens when our past calls us back to what we must do to achieve justice and reconciliation when we return.


Note: This book does contain a couple of profanities & stronger curse words
but it’s kept to a minimum.

affiliate links used

Eliana Tobias was born in Santiago, Chile, to immigrant parents who had escaped the Holocaust. She graduated from the University of Chile and later completed graduate degrees in the US and Canada. After working in the field of education in various capacities, including teaching at the National University in Trujillo, Peru, she discovered her love of writing.

Eliana’s rich experience of political turmoil—listening to stories of the Holocaust when Jewish communities in Europe had been shattered, losing family in Chile under military dictatorship, and living in Peru during a time of intense civil conflict—fueled her passion to write about the ways people caught in devastation find to rebuild their lives. Eliana’s first novel, In the Belly of the Horse, received an award from the International Latino Book Awards in 2018 and was also nominated for the Latino Book Into Movies Awards. Eliana splits her time between California and British Columbia.

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What about you? What makes you want to read When We Return by Eliana Tobias?

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23 responses to “Book Spotlight (and a Giveaway!): When We Return by Eliana Tobias

  1. Cathy French

    Great cover. Sounds like an interesting read. Set in a setting I am not yet familiar with.

    • Thanks Cathy for your comments. Perhaps Carrie’s story will entice you to read the novel! I think the graphic designer did a great job with the cover!

  2. It touches home. I went with a mission trip to Lima, Peru in 2009. The poverty at some levels struck us all deeply. The love, care, and concern from others also deeply moved us. I remember getting on and off a bus we were taking, and that the men with us would get off the bus on either side, watching everyone around us. We never asked why they were so vigilant and are probably glad we did not know. My niece was married in Venezuela after a trip there where she met her future husband and they fell in love. Their story about the poverty caused by the government in Venezuela, the hardship of being able to marry, and subsequently moving back to the US has been ongoing. His mother still lives there. This book sounds very unique and eye-opening to many of us.

    • Thank you Linda for sharing your personal experiences and broadening our undestanding about life in Latin America. I think that given your personal experiences you might find ‘When We Return’ an interesting read, as the novel takes the reader on a historical journey up to 2016. As you will be able to see in the book, things had changed quite a bit since you were there in 2009, and Peru was making tremedous economic gains. But when Covid hit, the pandemic and a recession devasted the country and levels of poverty began to rise. Peru has had one the highest Covid-19 death rates in the world. Please stay in touch!

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