Guatemala City is officially classified as one of the most dangerous cities in the Americas, where murders make daily headlines, and men hiss at women the same way they hiss at dogs. Here, in the shadow of the country’s many volcanoes, a 22-year-old anthropologist embarks upon her Fulbright research—unraveling the mysteries of the Mayan Highlands, and unexpectedly losing her long-held Christian faith.
After a weekend climb of the Pacaya Volcano turns tragic, the author struggles to shake the helplessness and fear that haunt her. In the midst of searching for a new faith, she discovers the bewildering town of San Pedro la Laguna—a place where Mayan culture collides with globalization and a tourism industry fueled by the drug trade. As she navigates her own spiritual crisis, Cynthia is drawn to explore the haunting beauty of the rugged highlands, the stories of the Tz’utuji’il people, and their connection to the land.
This fast-paced narrative and anthropological field study is at once an adventure, a coming of age story, an exploration of spirituality, and a reflection upon the shadow of fear in all our lives.
Plot/Idea: 9 out of 10
Originality: 9 out of 10
Prose: 10 out of 10
Character/Execution: 10 out of 10
Overall: 9.50 out of 10
Plot: This anthropological travelogue set in Guatemala proceeds along at a wonderful pace, and the inclusion of the author's spiritual journey is just as compelling, enhancing rather than overwhelming the travel experiences.
Prose: This is a novel rife with smart, descriptive prose and vibrant descriptions of people, places, and emotions, actively engaging all of the senses.
Originality: The perspective of Cindy, the Fulbright scholar, lends a stimulating professional quality to this memoir about adventures in Guatemala.
Character Development: The author's personality is remarkably clear and likable. Many additional peripheral characters are often detailed through their interactions with each other, which illuminates the nature and temperament of each individual.
Blurb: Out of Grace is a scholar's memoir, so richly detailed that readers can see, feel, smell, and taste Guatemala.
Date Submitted: August 30, 2018