From BBC Radio 4 – Book of the Week:
Born a week after the death of Che Guevara, Carmen Aguirre was always destined to become a revolutionary. After Pinochet’s violent coup in Chile in 1973, her family is forced to flee to Canada. And when, a few years later, the Chilean resistance calls for exiled activists to return to fight the cause, Carmen’s mother heeds the call. Determined to make mini revolutionaries of her two daughters, she takes them with her – and so Carmen’s double life begins. Posing as a westernised teenager by day, at night she is drilled in surveillance techniques, cryptography and subterfuge, not to mention political theory and revolutionary history. It is a time of high excitement, but also one of fear and paranoia, of who to trust, and who to fear.
From Pinochet’s repressive rule in Chile, to Shining Path Peru, dictatorship-run Bolivia to post-Malvinas Argentina, this is a darkly comic coming-of-age memoir is a rare first-hand account of a life as teenage revolutionary. It is also the story of a young girl trying to reconcile her commitment to the cause with her very unrevolutionary new interests in boys, music and fashion.
1/5: dressed as an all-American teenager, Carmen returns to Latin America with her mother and sister to join the underground, and a new life of subterfuge and danger.
2/5: After a perilous visit to her beloved Chile, Carmen finds herself questioning her commitment to the cause.
3/5: when the situation in Bolivia becomes to dangerous, Carmen finds herself in rural Argentina in the depths of a harsh winter.
4/5: a mission across the Andes goes perilously wrong, and Carmen is forced to risk all.
5/5: secret police, paranoia and mistrust, as the resistance begins to falter…
Author: Carmen Aguirre is a playwright and actor, now living in Vancouver.
Reader: Mia Soteriou.
Abridger: Richard Hamilton
Producer: Justine Willett.