Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Julie's Review: Revolution

Revolution: The Year I Fell in Love and Went to Join the War
Summary: In the 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. ~amazon.com

Review: I've read a few memoirs in my life and they aren't really my cup of tea. I thought that I might like Revolution: The Year I Fell in Love and Went to Join the War more because it seemed like it was more about the journey of self discovery than placing blame on others. For me, that wasn't the case. I always hope that when I read a memoir that the author learned something. While I think that maybe Ms. Unferth learned not to travel with George again, I'm not sure what else she learned. Maybe it was just her take on an adventurous part of her life and nothing else. Maybe I expect too much out of memoirs. Maybe I expect them to be reflective when really they are just a statement of a moment in that person's life.

Now, I do think that Ms. Unferth has a unique voice and she was quite funny in her deliverance of the story. She also painted a fantastic although dingy view of Nicaragua and El Salvador during their revolutions. I also think she went along with George because she was lost as most 18 year old when they are trying to figure out themselves. I couldn't have and wouldn't have lasted as long on this adventure as she did, especially with being sick all the time. That would have told me to get the heck out of dodge.

The part of the book that freaked me out was when they stayed in a hostel that had hundreds/thousand of big, hairy spiders in the hallways and rooms. I can't stand spiders and I'm pretty sure I probably would have passed out at the sight. One think I know for sure, I would have been sleeping on the street instead of there. She showed tremendous gumption for a lot of what she dealt with on this quest to be involved in a "revolution."

What I wanted more of and didn't get was about her family. Why wasn't she close or estranged? What happened there? While I get that this book wasn't about that part of her life, we were dropped enough hints that I wanted to know more. Perhaps those should have been edited out.

At times I felt that the writing was choppy and I couldn't follow it. It seemed like I was in her head and she had all these thoughts going at once and couldn't focus on what story she wanted to tell.

I also can't figure out what kept drawing her back to Central America and in some ways back to George. Was it that it was so tragic that she felt the need to hold onto it for some reason? It seems that she doesn't want to let go of this time in her life. Maybe she's still on the quest for something that she thinks she can find there.

In the end, I really don't think memoirs are for me, unless they are satirical like Jennifer Lancaster. If you like memoirs, this would be a one that isn't so depressing and actually funny in part.

I am also in the minority with my reaction to this book, since there have been great reviews in the blogosphere.

Final Take: 3/5



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