CAPTIVE by Clara Rojas


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Another perspective on the most famous hostage case in Colombia's troubled recent history.

Rojas, a lawyer and former legislator, was captured by the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) in 2002 with her friend, presidential candidate Ingrid Betancourt. The author would have been all but overshadowed by her world-famous co-captive—whose saintly reputation was sullied by the 2009 book Out of Captivity, written by three Americans held hostage in the same camp—had it not been for the fact that two years into her captivity, she became pregnant and delivered a baby boy via crude field-medicine techniques. Except for her capture and release and a couple of escapes that she and Betancourt attempted early on, the birth merits the majority of Rojas's attention. Though she maintains the mystery of her son Emmanuel's paternity, she writes that the pregnancy caused friction between her and her fellow hostages. She and Betancourt had fallen out after the escape attempts, but unlike the authors of the previous book, Rojas doesn't dwell on her friend's flaws. Rojas claims that she never sympathized with the guerrillas and holds righteous anger toward them for robbing her of six years of her life and separating her from Emmanuel not long after his birth, but the rebels' decency toward her, particularly during her pregnancy, shines through in contrast to the pettiness of her co-captives. Undoubtedly, the author's courage in withstanding her ordeal marks her as an unusual person with an extraordinary story to tell. Unfortunately, the narrative doesn't live up to the subject. Rojas says she wrote the book to put this unpleasant experience behind her and move on. In fact, she seems to have already been in the process of emotionally escaping from it as she wrote about it, resulting in a quick, light-handed sketch composed from a cautious distance.

A disappointingly superficial, unrevealing adventure memoir.

Pub Date: May 25th, 2010
ISBN: 978-1-4391-5695-7
Page count: 256pp
Publisher: Atria
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15th, 2010


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