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Author: Bruno Thursday 28 January 2021

Every year more than 400,000 minors disappear in the United States of America, according to FBI data, and in Spain 80% of the 16,000 people who remain unaccounted for by the police are minors. Chilling numbers have worsened during 2020, probably due to the pandemic, rising to 21%, according to the ANAR foundation (Aid to Children and Adolescents at Risk). Many of these cases are voluntary runaways caused by violence, fear, or simple adolescent rebellion, but what about non-voluntary disappearances? Do we devote enough time and resources to investigating them?… This is how the article published in Diario Marca about Irene R. Aseijas‘s novel EL CHICO DEL CARTON DE LECHE began, which I read in an afternoon and which left me with a very good impression. However, I did not get any of the big, conventional publishers to buy it, perhaps because of its atypical structure, mixing reality and fiction, it’s not the typical novel and it’s also very short, but it caught me, as I think it can catch many readers who are interested in these unsolved cases, in those who are interested in what many seem to want to ignore. The author uses the case of Etan Patz, whose disappearance made headlines in the United States in 1979. Etan, who was only seven years old, disappeared in the Soho neighborhood where he lived with his parents and his brother, when he went to pick up the bus to go to school. It was the first day he did it alone, and he did not return. His disappearance had such an impact on American society at the time that Etan’s face even appeared on milk cartons to help find him. He became a myth for missing children all over the world.

Irene mixes reality and fiction by explaining real cases from different places and times. With a journalistic voice she relates real cases that are not closed and that are mixed with the plot of the book, which is the thread of the novel that drags us to pay attention to the THEME of the disappearance of minors without a trace, and that most of the time they are cases that are not solved. Irene considers that we are too tolerant with the disappearance of minors and with this novel she tries to put the spotlight on this subject so that the reader can judge and draw his or her own conclusions. A short novel, but well measured, different, but with meaning, and with a clear purpose: do we look the other way when we cannot explain what cannot be explained? A very interesting reflection for this novel which, without being a typical novel, can capture the reader and force him or her to reflect intensely on something that is a reality, although we would really like it to be fiction.

So, I present to you a writer I love and for whom I will continue to fight for, because she has talent and the gift of knowing what she wants. Congratulations, Irene, and thank you, Alejandro Pérez, for giving us the opportunity to publish an unusual but brave novel, with an intelligent structure and very well written, and to read it with the same eyes as mine, without prioritizing the how and understanding the why.

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