From Publishers Weekly
In 1980, when Kuegler was seven, she accompanied her German linguist parents into the Papuan (New Guinea) jungle to live with the Fayu, a Stone Age tribe of naked people with bones through their noses. She felt immediately at home and by her own account had an idyllic childhood till she was 17, even though the Fayu were split into four mutually hostile subtribes in a culture of "hate, fear and tribal war," where children "knew no security or innocence" and had "little love, no forgiveness and no peace." After years of close friendship with Fayu children, eventually Kuegler was sent to boarding school in Switzerland, had a baby shortly after she graduated, married, divorced, sank into depression and attempted suicide. Young readers, and anthropologists, too, will find this account of a most unusual childhood engrossing and will root for the survival of the Fayu. (Mar. 2)
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Kuegler, who has resided in the "modern world" for only 15 years, begins her extraordinary memoir in 1980, when at age 8 she and her German family moved to the "Lost Valley" in Indonesia's interior, home of the primitive Fayu tribe. Despite the difficult living conditions--boiled river water for baths, a kerosene stove for cooking, an abundance of insects, snakes, and plate-sized spiders--Sabine always feels at home there, living "a life without stress in midst of nature, untouched by modern civilization." She and her siblings teach the native children soccer and hide-and-seek; in return they learn how to survive in the jungle. Kuegler's family gradually teaches its hosts to break the cycle of revenge and murder that has ruled their behavior for centuries, causing the Fayu to live in constant fear, never sure of a viable future. Eventually Kuegler forsakes this world, returning to Germany to pursue traditional education and marriage, but she never forgets the tranquility and comfort she derived from her years in the jungle. Deborah DonovanCopyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved