Revolution: The Year I Fell in Love and Went to Join the War

Deb Olin Unferth, Author
Deb Olin Unferth, Holt, $23 (224p) ISBN 978-0-8050-9323-0
Reviewed on: 02/21/2011
Release date: 02/01/2011
Open Ebook - 224 pages - 978-1-4299-9212-1
Paperback - 208 pages - 978-1-250-00268-6
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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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