A mother and her young son go looking for a liberation that verges on chaos in this luminous memoir. Political scientist Andreas (Smuggler Nation) recounts his adventures with his mother, Carol, a Mennonite turned Marxist anti-war feminist who abducted the five-year-old Peter from Michigan in 1969 during a custody dispute with her ex-husband, taking him on a years-long odyssey through South America in search of revolutionary ferment. His narrative is a vivid, picaresque tour of early-1970s left-wing counterculture: squalid communes; collective farms in Salvador Allende’s Chile; Peruvian slums, where Carol became interested in the Sendero Luminoso guerilla movement; vehement arguments about anti-establishment rectitude and fine points of Marxist theory; endless scrounging while disdaining all material desires. Mother and son both ran pretty wild (Andreas virtually raised himself in the streets while Carol sometimes bedded her parade of lovers in the room she shared with Andreas, until she married an erratic Peruvian street performer half her age), and Andreas feels both exhilaration and a longing for the stable, orderly life his father represents. Andreas’s exuberant but clear-eyed memoir paints an indelible portrait of his charismatic mother, the era’s expansive pursuit of freedom and idealistic commitment, and the toll of exhausted dreams and frayed relationships the idealists left behind. Photos. (Apr.)
Reviewed on: 12/12/2016 Release date: 04/04/2017 Genre: Nonfiction
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