Book Review: “The Little School” by Alicia Partnoy


“The Little School” by Alicia Partnoy (1998)

Genre: History, Non-Fiction, Memoir, Autobiography, Human Rights

Book Length: 136 pages (Paperback edition)


One of Argentina’s 30,000 “disappeared”, Alicia Partnoy was abducted from her home by secret police and taken to a concentration camp where she was tortured, and where most of the other prisoners were killed. Smuggled out and published anonymously, THE LITTLE SCHOOL is Partnoy’s memoir of her disappearance and imprisonment. (description from Goodreads)


This short fictionalized novel tells the story of Alicia’s disappearance during the Dirty War in Argentina which was a period of
state terrorism against political rebels. The military and security forces led guerrilla warfare against these progressive rebels’, and anyone believed to be associated with socialism. Our narrator recounts her experiences while being held at “The Little School”; a detention center controlled by the military regime. Through these short vignettes, we gain glimpses of the people she met
while being held captive, and the torture they experienced.

This is another assigned novel for my Human Rights literature class and I thoroughly enjoyed it! I love the narration style and it was heartbreaking to read the conditions the people lived in and the torture they went through. The novel explores the theme of vision and the overall five senses as it’s prisoners are physically and metaphorically blinded. Our narrator Alicia, is being able to peek under the blindfold, despite it dangerous consequences, she continues to document the truth of the atrocities and crimes that are being committed and can sometimes is able to prevent situations that happen throughout the novel. Through its fictionalization, the author is able to write the novel like a memoir, but also gives vivid, lyrical descriptions of each event.

Final Verdict:

A great novel! though its very short in length, it leaves a huge impact on its readers. 5 out of 5 stars!

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