Mira si yo te querré / See How Much I Love You
Novel , 2007
Winner of the 2007 Alfaguara Prize for Fiction
When Montse and Santiago meet as teenagers in 70s Barcelona they have little idea where their summer romance will lead. After they break up, in spite of Montse's pregnancy, Santiago decides to spend his military service as far away from her as possible: in the Western Sahara, Spain's only African colony. There, he is one of the few Spanish soldiers to befriend the local Sahrawi people, quickly falling in love with their customs and culture. But the year is 1975 and the colony will not last much longer. Following the death of General Franco and the Spanish withdrawal, Santiago becomes caught up in the brutal war between the Sahrawi and invading Moroccan forces. He is entrusted with escorting a Sahrawi friend's family on an epic journey, hundreds of miles across the desert.
Thirty years later, Montse, now a divorced doctor living in Barcelona, sees a photo of Santiago carried by a Sahrawi patient. After discovering that he did not die in 1975 as she had been told and that he, like her, has lost both a child and a partner, she sets out to find him amongst the refugee camps of the Western Sahara, a journey that will prove to be every bit as dangerous as Santiago's so many years before.
"An essential novel that must be bought and read." –Almudena Grandes, author of The Wind from the East
"Wholly entertaining, a novel that hooks you in from the first line. An original and dramatic love story set in an innovative context: refugee camps in the Sahara and although it is not a political work, Leante’s testimony leaves the reader hurt, indignant and angry; the reader lives the tragedy of a people whom history has marginalized and sacrificed systematically." –Mario Vargas Llosa
"With vivid imagery of desperate village life and keen insight into multicultural influences, Leante’s rich, often poetic novel of romance and international politics evokes a sensuous yet savage period in this region’s tumultuous history." –Booklist, USA
"...set against one of those ongoing arenas of conflict that the media chooses to ignore - the struggle for independence of the Saharawi people of the Western Sahara first from the Spanish and later from Moroccan dominance...a necessary context to a painfully compelling story of love and loss." –Morning Star