The Parrot’s Perch opens in 2013, when Karen Keilt, age sixty, receives an invitation to testify at the Brazilian National Truth Commission at the UN in New York. The email sparks memories of her “previous life”—the one she has kept safely bottled up for more than thirty-seven years. Hopeful of helping to raise awareness about ongoing human rights violations in Brazil, she wants to testify, but she anguishes over reliving the horrific events of her youth.
In the pages that follow, Keilt tells the story of her life in Brazil—from her exclusive, upper-class lifestyle and dreams of Olympic medals to her turmoil-filled youth. Full of hints of a dark oligarchy in Brazil, corruption, crime, and military interference, The Parrot’s Perch is a searing, sometimes shocking true tale of suffering, struggle—and survival.
Karen Keilt lived through the darkest days of Brazil’s military dictatorship. In her courageous and compelling memoir, Keilt narrates an emotionally honest reckoning of her desire to find true happiness. Forbidden by her wealthy family to even mention her imprisonment, torture, and rape, Keilt is forced to make a change that will affect the rest of her life. Seen through her testimony to the Brazilian National Truth Commission at the UN, readers become witnesses to both her vulnerability and her quiet strength.
Keilt's gripping memoir begins in December 2013, as she travels to the UN headquarters in New York to testify about the abuse she and her ex-husband endured at the hands of the police in Brazil nearly 34 years earlier during the country's military dictatorship. Keilt was born in S o Paulo to an affluent American mother and Brazilian father. Her idyllic childhood was occasionally interrupted by brutal run-ins with Brazilian authorities (customs officers once forced her family to empty their bank account). In 1975, Keilt, then in her early 20s, married Rick Sage, a childhood friend of another American family living in Brazil. Two months into their marriage, the newlyweds were awoken in the middle of the night by police who bound and dragged them into a car. What follows is a stomach-churning account of the 45 days they spent being tortured (Keilt was raped) in captivity, until their release once their families had paid a ransom just as, she would later learn, other affluent families had done. Karen finally told her story to the Brazilian National Truth Commission at the UN in the hopes that her story would lead to the arrest of those officials who participated in torture and "might help put an end to corruption." Keilt narrates an intense yet even-handed story of living under a dictatorship.
Gripping and honest
A great read and reminder of how quickly stability can devolve. Grateful to the author for her bravery and overall appreciation for life, love, and strength.