“Slum,” written by Dan Carroll, tells the story of Robert Beaufort, the head of a humanitarian company who falls in love with an ex-stripper, present-day entrepreneur Julianna Miranda in the Cienaga slum. This tale of the clash of cultures is vividly portrayed by engaging dialogue; the characters are distinctly endearing. However, the heavy use of profanity at times and the novel’s lack of dramatic tension toward the end somewhat damages the story’s effort to be a philosophically inspiring novel.
(Spoiler alert) Robert leaves New York, headquarters of his humanitarian organization, to travel to San Cristobal to retrieve an attestation signed by the government concerning the transfer and usage of his brother’s donation to the Cienaga slum. Through a horrible auto accident, he meets little Alba, who was born with a hole in her heart, and her beautiful mother Julianna. The love Robert and Julianna have for Alba begins to connect them in an inextricable way. Even though she is married to Pedro, Julianna begins an affair with Robert. Pedro soon receives a near-fatal accident, after his daughter Alba has received a life-saving operation, leaving him a a state of vegetation. Julianna and Robert decide to bring their relationship in the open while deciding to keep Pedro on life support for the present.
Two of the novel’s strong points are its dialogue and characters. The dialogue moves the story along at a good pace, never lingering too long upon once scene. Its neatly-clipped appearance and tone is solidified by the characters’ unique voices. The characters’ dialogues and monologues are what paint such a vibrant picture of their intentions and personalities. Natalia, the first-aid lady in the Cienaga slum, is one force of nature; the reader can gather this impression from the first sentence she utters.
Although the novel’s dialogue is full of vitality, it can be at times full of profanity. During these scenes, the reader can be bombarded by f-words. Their presence detracts from the novel’s descriptive power.
The first three quarters of the novel was well-built upon the characters’ drives and passions. But the anticlimactic last quarter of the novel was disappointing. The main characters’ victories over themselves were close to undetectable. The possible troublesome nature of Pedro’s character was too easily removed from the picture by an accident in the hurricane. The ending was… boring.
The intention of the storyteller to produce a love story that would uplift the hearts that read it can be seen and appreciated. But the swearing and lack of character empowerment in the end has it falling short of a greater goal.