The Year I Fell in Love and Went to Join the War

A memoir about the year Unferth dropped out of college and went to Central America in an ill-advised attempt to take part in the Marxist revolutionary movements in El Salvador and Nicaragua during the Cold War.

Finalist for the National Book Critics’ Circle Award

“Brave, soulful…Unferth has a distinct, droll voice. Reading her is like listening to a girlfriend burning with gin-fueled enlightenment.”

—The New York Times Book Review

“This clearheaded and funny memoir captures the grit and chaos of a tumultuous moment in Central American history, but it’s really a coming-of-age story…[Unferth] didn’t become a revolutionary, but she did become a grown-up.”

—Mother Jones

“There is something in Unferth’s combination of spare language and intelligent observation, her darts of emotional insight shooting through a highly personal screen, that is reminiscent of Joan Didion. That’s a lot to live up to, but the two writers share a sense of beauty and loss and get something on the page that implies something else just out of reach.”

—Los Angeles Times

“Unferth’s application of her imagination to her subject…evokes what David Forster Wallace referred to as ‘the click,’ a feeling one gets when reading work that’s firing on all cylinders.”


“Unferth surely can write…You find yourself re-reading descriptions…simply for the pleasure of the language.”

—Chicago Tribune

“Revolution calls itself a memoir, but Deb Olin Unferth’s tale of dropping out of college to join the Sandinista revolution is something altogether stranger and more dazzling.”

—Time Out New York

“Unferth’s depiction of the futility of Deb’s odyssey is devastatingly frank…At the heart of Revolution is Unferth’s slightly eccentric take on the venerable confusion of the political and the personal…how does one become a person? How is the person to be made?”

—The Nation

“Hers is a bildungsroman for the Believer set… impossible to dislike…The jokes are crisp and understated, the sentences clean and knapped.”

—New York Observer

“Unferth writes with a beautiful insouciance…[T]his is good and bad news—love doesn’t go away. It just doesn’t go away—it changes into something else. Amen.”