Reflections on a childhood spent with a feminist, revolution-minded mother.
When Andreas' (International Studies/Brown Univ.; Smuggler Nation: How Illicit Trade Made America, 2013, etc.) mother died, he found hundreds of her journals, written over more than three decades, including when he traveled with her as a young boy throughout South America. Born in Kansas and raised as a Mennonite, Carol Andreas was not a typical 1950s housewife content to play mother to her three sons. She quickly discovered the political activism and feminism movements of the mid-1960s and wanted to be a part of the revolution, wherever it might take place. After leaving his father and living in a commune for a couple of years, mother and son moved to South America, traveling the countryside and living in squalor to be one with the local people. Throughout the book, Andreas impressively re-creates the settings and conversations that took place in Chile and Peru in the early 1970s. The author fully immerses readers in his experiences, which included a lack of discipline or structure to daily life, poverty, and filth (he notes numerous bouts with lice and invasions of mice), and he captures the love felt between mother and son as they worked alongside the poor. Andreas doesn't hide his mother's obsessive nature, shy away from mentioning details of listening to her numerous lovers while he pretended to sleep mere feet from the bed, or dismiss the angst he felt when he thought about his American father, whom he missed very deeply at times. The author also includes details of his infrequent interactions with his older brothers, who were on their own different paths. The overall picture is one of adventure, self-reliance, and intimacy during times of great change, and Andreas offers an informative perspective on what it was like to be a kid through it all.
An illuminating portrait of a childhood of excitement, adventure, and love positioned against the backdrop of 1970s-era South America.