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A Memoir

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.


The Parrot’s Perch is a riveting and compelling read that draws the reader in from the very first page. Karen Keilt’s memoir is a story of innocence lost―betrayal and brutality, acceptance, and ultimately forgiveness. Its power leaves you questioning the human capacity to hurt one another―and, as the author beautifully demonstrates, the human heart’s greater capacity to stand courageously for truth, justice, and love.”

Paulette Bodeman, author of The BreakAway Girl: Secrets of a Tantric Yogi

“Keilt narrates an intense yet even-handed story of living under a dictatorship.”

Publisher's Weekly

“Karen Keilt has written a powerful and moving memoir about a subject that’s still just coming out of the closet: growing up terrified of a parent―and of one’s environment in general―and the lifelong consequences of that fear. As women all over the world are becoming more outspoken about the truth of their experience, the timing of this book could not be better.”

Stephen Singular, author of Talked to Death: The Life and Murder of Alan Berg

“In writing this courageous, grueling memoir, the author has made an important and powerful statement regarding human rights violations. Her recollections will undoubtedly leave a mark on readers… An astoundingly brave and lucid gathering of horrific memories.”

Kirkus Reviews

“A courageous story of surviving government corruption, The Parrot’s Perch is an often harrowing memoir.”

Foreword Reviews

Learn more about Brazil and human rights

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Read an Excerpt


“I lost all sense of being human. I was completely powerless.”

Rambling almost incoherently I went on about the putrid food that I could not eat.

“It was never warm or hot. It smelled horrible and was a congealed mess of rancid rice and some bits of meat. I thought it must be dogs or rats. I could never bring myself to eat it.”

I reached down and touched my raw feet. “After they took me back to my cell, I tore strips of skin from the soles of my feet. I ate my own flesh to stay alive.”

I lowered my voice, speaking just above a whisper. “Sometimes when I feel so lost, I still do that. What’s wrong with me, Mau?”

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