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Revolution: The Year I Fell in Love and Went…
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Revolution: The Year I Fell in Love and Went to Join the War (original 2011; edition 2011)

by Deb Olin Unferth

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7215166,644 (3.47)6
Member:kelsiface
Title:Revolution: The Year I Fell in Love and Went to Join the War
Authors:Deb Olin Unferth
Info:Henry Holt and Co. (2011), Hardcover, 224 pages
Collections:Your library, Society (Loosely Defined)
Rating:***
Tags:memoir, Latin America, librarything early reviewers, ARC

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Revolution: The Year I Fell in Love and Went to Join the War by Deb Olin Unferth (2011)

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Showing 1-5 of 15 (next | show all)
This review was written for LibraryThing Early Reviewers.
Like another reviewer wrote, this book is more about its subtitle and less about the title itself. I think I would have enjoyed it more had the opposite been true, but given Unferth's motivations for being in Central America, maybe that's not so much the case. And that, I guess, is probably my issue with the memoir in general-- she captures being 18 and in a kind of obsessive love very, very well, perhaps because she hasn't entirely moved on from that stage of her life per the memoir. Unfortunately, those things don't make for a very likable narrator, which I found myself struggling with as a reader at times. This said, there are moments of real beauty and wisdom in her narrative as well; they're just somewhat rare. ( )
  kelsiface | Jan 3, 2013 |
When Deb Olin Unferth was 18, she fell in love with George, a fellow student, who was rather rebellious, and bit strange. Being in love, it seemed young Deb would do anything for her boyfriend. She changed her religion from Jewish to Christian, to her family’s dismay, and followed George on his journey to ‘foment’ the revolution in Central America.

The naiveté of youth leads Deb to somewhere she is totally unprepared for, and the often treacherous journey to Nicaragua leaves an impression on her that remains to this day. From reading the memoir, it seems that some twenty years after her venture into this unknown territory, she is still deeply affected by that trip. Indeed she made a journey back to Nicaragua after ten years and then continued to visit the places she’d been to in her youth for years, as if the country had some kind of hold on her.

This book is one woman’s story about how love can make people do the strangest things, and also how first love can leave its mark for a lifetime. It appears, from reading the book, that the author retains a deep curiosity about her ex-fiancé, George (he proposed whilst they were on the road and they broke off the engagement soon after. They lost touch a few years after returning home).

On their trip to join the revolution in 1987, Deb and George find jobs and get fired, sleep in spider-infested hotels, get very ill, get robbed many times, and almost drown at sea. There are very interesting stories about their adventure told in a humourous and sentimental way by the author.

The book is very well written, and kept me interested. It’s quite thought-provoking and insightful in parts.

Reviewed by Maria Savva as a reviewer for Bookpleasures. ( )
  MariaSavva | Jul 31, 2011 |
This is the hilarious and moving true story of how a woman named Deb and her boyfriend George randomly decided to travel to South America to join the revolution. When they arrived in South America, they had no idea which revolution to join, nor did they even have any concrete reason for joining. What they wanted was to be involved in something bigger than themselves, and their altruistic natures led them to believe that this something was the revolution. Traveling through South America in a wayward fashion, they go from Mexico City to Nicaragua to El Salvador, bumbling their way along and getting themselves into alternately comic and frightening situations. It seems that Deb and George’s help is not wanted, and though they try to become involved in any way they can, they are quickly fired from their jobs as revolutionaries and sent packing. But there’s more to the story than that, because Deb isn’t sure she wants to be with George anymore, and though she’s strangely obsessed with him, she sometimes can’t stand him. As the two bump along, becoming increasingly ill due to poor sanitary conditions, they also find themselves at an emotional crossroads. Chasing the revolution with zest and zeal, both Deb and George will find themselves in the most unlikely places, and find that the revolution taking place inside themselves is much larger than the one they are running through the jungles to find.

One of the things I love best is when a book manages to be genuinely funny without trying too hard. This was that book. While I was reading, I was laughing and snorting with glee because Deb Unferth has a way of just laying it all out there and sharing the ridiculous and absurd along with the poignant and thought-provoking. From the very first sentence, I knew this was going to be a book I was going to love, and I wasn't wrong at all. It was a relatively fast and short read but I enjoyed every second of it, and of Deb and George’s journey.

First off, I should mention that when Deb and George set off for their journey into revolution, they were both rather young and didn’t have the support of their parents. They basically left college and ran away to South America to be revolutionaries. I’m not sure they even knew what a revolution was or why one would join up to fight in one. As they make their way towards and away from some very scary destinations, they find themselves participating in some strange ways: Like building bicycles for the revolution, or minding children who are caught in the war zone. It’s almost like they’re attracted to and called by bizarre enterprises, and of course, being so young, they think they are the height of coolness and altruism by doing these strange things. Of course these jobs don’t last long, and soon they are fired from their jobs as revolutionaries and on the road looking for another gig. But the problem is that during this time, most all of the revolutions are just starting to wind down. When they join the Sandinistas, they find that most of the time they are on duty, they are really scrounging for food or trading things on the black market (things they had agreed that they would never do.)

In addition to their hunt for the revolution, Deb and George are having problems of a different sort. Deb is sort of clingy and is always hanging all over George and letting him make all the decisions. This bothers her on one level and satisfies her on another, so she’s always at war with herself. George, meanwhile, is a strange duck and has a lot of incongruous behavior and ideas that make him unpopular with both the natives and the other revolutionaries. He’s one of those quiet guys, and though he has good intentions, his quietness seems to be hiding a whole lot of crazy. The relationship antics that pepper the pages of Revolution are wildly funny and weird but also somehow strangely sad. As Deb and George make their way from country to country, I could see their relationship deteriorating bit by bit. Deb doesn’t hold back about how she’s both in love with George and annoyed to death with him. All of this pressure comes to a head when they finally agree to head home, and things go from bad to worse in the relationship department.

The last parts of this book intermingle some of the singular and weird scenes from the couple’s stint in various revolutions and Deb’s attempt, many years later, to track down George. It seems she is a little obsessed with him and does some strange things to find him. Like repeatedly calling a private eye to track George down, and pretending to be a different person each time she calls (she obviously didn’t fool the private eye, of course). The whole book is delivered in Deb’s deadpan style, and I couldn’t help but get caught up in the bizarre humor of this couple who were sort of good-hearted bumblers. It was uncanny how unprepared these two were for life as revolutionaries, and just how young they appeared, both in terms of their relationship and their mission. I felt sorry for them a lot of the time but I was also overjoyed with the humorous way that Unferth tells her story.

I had a great time with this book, and as it was such a fast and enjoyable read, I’m hoping to read it again soon. This was another book that I followed my husband around the house reading passages out of, and even he was shaking his head and laughing. If you’re looking for something light and comical, this is the book for you. It tells a most implausible story in a very comic way and keeps you guessing as to what will eventually befall Deb and George. It was one hell of a fun read and unlike anything I have read before. Highly recommended! ( )
  zibilee | Jul 21, 2011 |
This review was written for LibraryThing Early Reviewers.
I was not at all disappointed by the sweeping and genuine portrayal of her time in South America. I was a huge fan of her eccentric novel debut, and will continue to recommend this to others just as fervently has her novel and stories. Excellent.
  Nicholae | Jul 14, 2011 |
This review was written for LibraryThing Early Reviewers.
I love Unferth's fiction and her writing in this memoir did not disappoint. However, I could not help but feel that Unferth and her boyfriend were foolish to traipse off to El Salvador and Nicaragua to join in the revolutions. It seems like a very ill-advised and naive thing to do, and I had very little sympathy for them when they encountered difficulties along the way. I did enjoy the writing, though. ( )
  checkadawson | Apr 14, 2011 |
Showing 1-5 of 15 (next | show all)
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.
added by sduff222 | editBooklist, Donna Seaman (Jan 1, 2011)
 
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0805093230, Hardcover)

Rising literary star Deb Olin Unferth offers a new twist on the coming-of-age memoir in this utterly unique and captivating story of the year she ran away from college with her Christian boyfriend and followed him to Nicaragua to join the Sandinistas.

Despite their earnest commitment to a myriad of revolutionary causes and to each other, the couple find themselves unwanted, unhelpful, and unprepared as they bop around Central America, looking for "revolution jobs." The year is 1987, a turning point in the Cold War. The East-West balance has begun to tip, although the world doesn't know it yet, especially not Unferth and her fiancé (he proposes on a roadside in El Salvador). The months wear on and cracks begin to form in their relationship: they get fired, they get sick, they run out of money, they grow disillusioned with the revolution and each other.  But years later the trip remains fixed in her mind and she finally goes back to Nicaragua to try to make sense of it all.  Unferth's heartbreaking and hilarious memoir perfectly captures the youthful search for meaning, and is an absorbing rumination on what happens to a country and its people after the revolution is over.

(retrieved from Amazon Mon, 30 Sep 2013 13:38:13 -0400)

"The story of the year Deb Olin Unferth ran away from college with her idealistic boyfriend and followed him to Nicaragua to join the Sandinistas in 1987. As the months wear on, they find themselves unwanted, unhelpful, and unprepared, and cracks begin to form in their relationship. ... But years later, the trip remains fixed in her mind and she finally returns to Nicaragua"--P. [4] of cover.… (more)

(summary from another edition)

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