From Publishers Weekly
In 1987, Unferth set off to Central America with her idealistic boyfriend, George, determined to join "the revolution." Any revolution would do. In her deft account, Unferth retraces their journey, beginning in Guatemala and working north. Though the duo weren't able to play an active role until they reached violent El Salvador, where they cared for children literally caught in the middle of a civil war, took part in protests, and interviewed priests about assassinations, the couple also wrestled with an inner revolution—their relationship. Bonded by frequent interrogations from soldiers, ever-present illnesses, heat, and gigantic, "evil" spiders, the two grew close, only to find their bond dissolve as time wore on and they made their way home. Though her journey was certainly dramatic, Unferth avoids melodrama and doesn't dwell on particularly nasty aspects; her focus is on the story, and in that arena, she excels with a wry, self-deprecating voice that propels the tale forward. Though her emotional economy (she never fully explores her complicated relationship with her family) gives the book an unfinished quality that can be frustrating, Unferth's prose is a pleasure to read. (Feb.)
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Unferth has accrued praise and awards for her cutting-edge fiction, and now readers will discover the origin of her distinct sensibility in this disarmingly forthright chronicle of a dangerously quixotic sojourn. Unferth dropped out of college during her freshman year to accompany her boyfriend, George, to El Salvador and Nicaragua, where they planned to join the Revolution. It was 1987, and these zealous misfit-innocents were drawn to the radiance of liberation theology. Two gauche, earnest, and stoic white kids with some Spanish and no understanding of politics, war, or poverty, Unferth and George barely survived their run-ins with machine-gun-toting soldiers, gigantic spiders, vicious microbes, thieves, activists, journalists, priests, and prostitutes. As wild and gnarly as this tale of youthful hubris is, Unferth’s prose remains as sure and slicing as a machete, clearing a path through a jungle of emotions. As Unferth revisits the appalling civil wars of Central America in her rueful and intoxicating account of a mad adventure and crazily improvised rites of initiation into selfhood, she creates a memoir of unique lucidity, wit, and power. --Donna Seaman