Macmillan Childrens Publishing Group


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

Deb Olin Unferth

Henry Holt and Co.




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.


Part One
The New World


I had food in my heart and mind that morning. My parents had said they'd pick George and me up at the border and take us anywhere we wanted to eat. I wanted to go to McDonald's. My father thought...


Praise for Revolution

“This is a very funny, excoriatingly honest story of being young, semi-idealistic, stupid and in love. If you have ever been any of these things, you'll devour it.” —Dave Eggers

“Deb Olin Unferth is one of the most ambitious and inspirational writers working today. Her memoir of idealistic, bewildered people-in-training befell me like a fever for which, I'm happy to report, there appears to be no cure. An encounter with Unferth's prose is to be permanently, wondrously afflicted by its genius.” —Heidi Julavits, author of The Uses of Enchantment

Revolution is the best of many worlds: misconceived youth, sharp humor and sharper characters, and mostly, for me, the chance to witness a brand of paragraph-to-paragraph artistry that is much too rare.” —John Brandon, author of Citrus County

“Brave, soulful...Unferth has a distinct, droll voice. Reading her is like listening to a girlfriend burning with gin-fueled enlightenment.” —The New York Times Book Review (Editor's Choice Pick)

Revolution calls itself a memoir, but it's something altogether stranger and more dazzling: It's a virtuosic one-woman show....It's smart, stylish, compulsive reading: memoir at its best.” —Time Out New York

“Unferth writes with a sly, understated appreciation for the absurd...A dryly humorous memoir of love, travel and wide-eyed idealism.” —Kirkus

“This clearheaded and funny memoir captures the grit and chaos of a tumultuous moment in Central American history, but it's really a coming-of-age story...[Unferth] didn't become a revolutionary, but she did become a grown-up.” —Mother Jones

“Unferth's application of her imagination to her subject…evokes what David Forster Wallace referred to as ‘the click,' a feeling one gets when reading work that's firing on all cylinders.” —Bookforum

“Hers is a bildungsroman for the Believer set, a portrait of the artist as a young and clueless revolutionary.” —The New York Observer

“Unferth's prose remains as sure and slicing as a machete, clearing a path through a jungle of emotions...A memoir of unique lucidity, wit, and power.” —Booklist

In the Press

Read the Kirkus Review of REVOLUTION The Year I Fell in Love and Went to Join the War. Chronicle of the chaotic year during which two-time Pushcart Prize&ndash;winning author Unferth (EnglishWesleyan Univ.; <em>Vacation<em>, 2008, etc.) and her then-boyfriend went from being college coeds to aspiring communist revolutionaries in Central America. - Kirkus Reviews

Reviews from Goodreads

About the author

Deb Olin Unferth

Deb Olin Unferth is the author of the story collection Minor Robberies and the novel Vacation, winner of the 2009 Cabell First Novelist Award and a New York Times Book Review Critics' Choice. Her work has been featured in Harper's Magazine, McSweeney's, The Believer, and the Boston Review. She has received two Pushcart Prizes and a 2009 Creative Capital grant for Innovative Literature. She teaches at Wesleyan University and currently lives in New York.

Deb Olin Unferth

Margaret Olin