A veteran chronicles her postwar life in which she became an undercover law enforcement agent, started a family, and confronted hard truths of domestic violence.
In this direct follow-up to Torres’ debut memoir, Still Standing (2014), readers rejoin the Latina veteran of the first Iraq War after she returned stateside, working as a narcotics agent. Gone is the death wish that drove her into the military after a prom night rape; it’s replaced here with courage as she faced exciting opportunities in her new career. She presents a firsthand view of what it’s like to do undercover work as a woman, stripped of the fictions of movies and television—a no-nonsense account of buys-and-busts, prostitution stings, and a deep cover, Donnie Brasco–esque operation at a social club. Beneath it all is Torres’ continued emotional struggle as a rape survivor as she attempted to open up and cultivate healthy relationships. While vacationing in Cuba, she fell for Narciso, a charming native who soon came to the United States, where they married and had a daughter. Yet this happiness was short-lived: Narciso swung mercurially between being violent and apologetic, turning her home into a place that was more unpredictable than the crime-ridden streets. Torres excels at depicting this tension, and offers a remarkable, candid portrayal of a physically capable, emotionally intuitive woman who finds herself in an atmosphere of abuse. It’s difficult to discuss this book without referencing its predecessor, however, as it ties up many of Still Standing's loose ends—most importantly, the fact that Torres finally confronted the man who raped her. That trauma is less present in this volume; instead, she refers to it only in passing, which renders the book less powerful. Otherwise, though, this is an impeccably edited story about the long- and short-term effects of rape and abuse, told from an unusual perspective.
An intimate memoir about finding closure, coupled with copious true-crime flourishes.