Trish's Reviews > Captive: 2,147 Days of Terror in the Colombian Jungle

Captive by Clara Rojas
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Nov 10, 10

bookshelves: nonfiction, south-america, unutterably-painful
Read in November, 2010

Clara tells us near the end of her book how difficult it was to write of her time as a hostage, which entails remembering details about captivity one would rather forget. I completely sympathize with the difficulties, not only of writing a book, but trying to get one's life back, and coming to terms with the lost years--all of it. But I only understand these feelings because I read Ingrid Betancourt's book before I read this one. Ingrid Betancourt's memories of her time in captivity with FARC rebels in the Amazon, called Even Silence has an End is such a perfect example of it's type that the reader becomes very involved with the day-to-day experiences of the hostages, and their captors. One begins to imagine what oneself would do under similar circumstances. Sadly, most of us, were we honest, could not manage it well, which is why we cut slack for Rojas, even as we stifle our boredom as she describes her own. The Rojas' memoir is a pallid thing, thin and unexceptional in every way. One leaves it no more aware of life in the Amazon than before and the following passage is typical of the level of detail:
It [the Amazon jungle] is home of all types of birds, mammals, reptiles, and amphibians. There are animals and insects of all colors, shapes, and sizes: from small spiders to enormous ones; brown-colored scorpions; black and reddish ones; ants of every sizem from tiny ones to those creepy crawlers capable of devouring you alive; flying cockroaches, mosquitos; daddy longlegs; bees; wasps; bumblebees--evidently, plenty of creatures to protect yourself from at all times.
Frankly, Rojas sounds a little unhinged some of the time, and pointedly avoids talking about the decision which led to the most important event that happened to her while a captive: conceiving a child with a FARC rebel. Everyone knows that what is most personal is most universal, and while Clara Rojas doesn't owe us a thing after her years of captivity, I don't think we have any obligation to say she's written a decent book.
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