Home Feed
Home
Search
Search
Add Review, Blurb, Quote
Add
Activity
Activity
Profile
Profile
What You Have Heard Is True
What You Have Heard Is True: A Memoir of Witness and Resistance | Carolyn Forche
13 posts | 8 read | 25 to read
The powerful story of a young poet who becomes an activist through a trial by fire What You Have Heard is True is a devastating, lyrical, and visionary memoir about a young woman's brave choice to engage with horror in order to help others. Written by one of the most gifted poets of her generation, this is the story of a woman's radical act of empathy, and her fateful encounter with an intriguing man who changes the course of her life. She is twenty-seven when the mysterious stranger appears on her doorstep. The relative of a friend, he is a charming polymath with a mind as seemingly disordered as it is brilliant. She's heard rumors from her friend about who he might be: a lone wolf, a communist, a CIA operative, a sharpshooter, a revolutionary, a small coffee farmer, but according to her, no one seemed to know for certain. He has driven from El Salvador to invite Forch to visit and learn about his country. Captivated for reasons she doesn't fully understand, she accepts and becomes enmeshed in something beyond her comprehension. Together they meet with high-ranking military officers, impoverished farm workers, and clergy desperately trying to assist the poor and keep the peace. These encounters are a part of his plan to educate her, but also to learn for himself just how close the country is to war. As priests and farm-workers are murdered and protest marches attacked, he is determined to save his country, and Forch is swept up in his work and in the lives of his friends. Pursued by death squads and sheltering in safe houses, the two forge a rich friendship, as she attempts to make sense of what she's experiencing and establish a moral foothold amidst profound suffering. This is the powerful story of a poet's experience in a country on the verge of war, and a journey toward social conscience in a perilous time.
Amazon Indiebound Barnes and Noble WorldCat Goodreads LibraryThing
Pick icon
100%
review
Bevita
post image
Pickpick

El Salvador, pre-war. It is hard even now, living where I do, to imagine the privation. Bless her for writing it.

blurb
Billypar
post image

I was excited to have the opportunity to talk books with Jenny from the Reading Envy podcast - you can check out the episode here:
http://readingenvy.blogspot.com/2021/01/reading-envy-212-subtly-fascinating.html...
If you're new to ReadingEnvy, it's fantastic: Jenny and her guests trade off in discussing recent reads - a perfect podcast for readers basically. There's also readalongs and other themed activities and challenges to try.
@ReadingEnvy

Billypar I should also mention that Litsy introduced me to 2 of the 3 books I discuss, so thanks to @Suet624 and @BarbaraBB for giving me two of my favorite 2020 reads! #blameitonlitsy 12mo
Nute I love the Reading Envy Podcast! I am so exited for you to be a guest reader there, Vinny. Listening to your episode is a priority today! 12mo
Billypar @Nute I hope you enjoy it Kimberley! 🙂 12mo
See All 21 Comments
ReadingEnvy Thanks for being a great guest! I really noticed that the majority of our books were by and about women, with faces on the covers. 12mo
vivastory Can't wait to give this one a listen! 12mo
readordierachel Listening now! 12mo
BarbaraBB The Birds 🦅 💜. I am happy to have a fellow lover of the book and will definitely listen to the podcast! Which one was recommended by @Suet624 ? I know I need to read that one too 😉🤍 12mo
Suet624 The tagged book. @BarbaraBB and now I need to find the book you recommended (edited) 12mo
Suet624 I‘m so glad you loved that book as much as I did. Can‘t wait to listen to the podcast. (edited) 12mo
BarbaraBB @Suet624 Thanks! I‘ll go after it! And I‘m sure you‘d love 12mo
Billypar @ReadingEnvy Ha- that's true, like we gathered an interesting audience to sit in on the discussion 🙂 12mo
Billypar @vivastory Hope you enjoy it! 12mo
Billypar @readordierachel Nice - hope it provided a good bookish break in your day! 12mo
Billypar @BarbaraBB The brother depending on sister situation in True Deceiver at first reminded me of The Birds, but the similarities sort of end there. Two different gems of books - I'm looking forward to the TD discussion! 12mo
Billypar @Suet624 I started listening to it again just to prep for the podcast, but after a certain point I just accepted I was rereading the whole thing. It holds up the second time around! 12mo
Suet624 Wow! Impressive. I‘m a bit envious. Such a good book. 12mo
ReadingEnvy @Suet624 I definitely want to read it too, so thanks second removed! 12mo
RobinGustafson Really enjoyed this episode. Already put What You Have Heard Is True on my TBR! 12mo
Reggie Great show, Vinny! You made me want to read the first book you talked about and reminded me to check out Kelly Link‘s other works. 12mo
Billypar @RobinGustafson Glad you enjoyed it - hope you like Forché's memoir when you pick it up! 12mo
Billypar @Reggie Thanks Reggie! I think you'll like the memoir. I also plan to seek out Kelly Link's other work - she's too good to leave anything unread. 12mo
54 likes2 stack adds21 comments
blurb
Billypar
post image

#top6reads
Thanks for the tag @vivastory
For a lover of fiction, it's a strange first half to a year where half of my top reads are memoirs, but these three were that good and among the best memoirs I've ever read.
(The top two pictured are My Name Is Red and Oranges Are Not the Only Fruit)
Feel like sharing yours @Cathythoughts @erzascarletbookgasm ?

vivastory In the Dream House is on my tentative July TBR (although I might bump it for her book of stories). The Oyeyemi is on my top ten of the year for sure. Great list! 2y
erzascarletbookgasm I have Oranges, Dream House, and Caged Birds on my tbr 😅 and I‘m reading the Pamuk which is fascinating! Thanks for the tag. 2y
Billypar @vivastory I've fallen behind on my Litsy reviews, so I still need to add Dream House's, but in short, it took a very innovative approach to examining a painful piece of personal history and it really worked beautifully. I still need to read her story collection and now I want to even more. 2y
See All 10 Comments
Billypar @erzascarletbookgasm Our reading lists are very much in sync it seems! I hope you're enjoying Red - I certainly did 🖌🖌🖌 2y
Tanisha_A Superb list. More tbr adds 😁 2y
Cathythoughts Thankyou for the tag ! I‘ll be thinking 👍🏻❤️ 2y
Cathythoughts I‘m taking a screen shot of your list for future reference, Thankyou 2y
Billypar Hope you enjoy them if you pick any up @Tanisha_A and @Cathythoughts 2y
merelybookish I also have In the Dream House on my list!! 2y
Billypar @merelybookish I just finished it last week and it's still weighing heavily on my mind - not one to easily forget! 2y
47 likes10 comments
review
Yahui07
post image
Pickpick

I like this book very very much.
Although I was confused in the beginning because who would accept an invitation from a man she barely knew to a country facing a war, the more I read the more I like it.
I think it is her writing style bringing me into this book and keeping reading. I can feel the violence and terrifying situations without reading violent languages and wordings. It is no doubt a worth reading book!!

review
MegCaldwell
post image
Pickpick

Wow. Listened to this on Libby. A poet in El Salvador before and after the second civil war. Graceful writing. Highly recommend.

Billypar Favorite book I've read this year so far: I read it a few weeks ago and can't stop thinking about it. 2y
9 likes1 stack add1 comment
review
Billypar
post image
Pickpick

@Suet624 I cannot thank you enough for recommending this memoir: I've never read a better one or a story that feels more urgent.
It's non-fiction, but better to go in knowing less- I'll describe the beginning: Carolyn Forché was 27 in 1977, a poet living in San Diego. A stranger arrives at her door with his 2 daughters after driving for 3 days from El Salvador: Leonel Gómez Vides, a relative of her friend. He tells her 'we have work to do.' 👇

Billypar What follows is an incredible account that Forché recounts with a poet's precision and a natural storyteller's gift for drawing you in. It pays tribute to the heroic women and men who resisted governmental terror in the years leading up to the Salvadoran Civil War and shines a light on a history that most Americans are unaware of, even as the migration from Central America has roots in U.S. policy from decades ago. Put this at the top of your TBR! 2y
Suet624 Oh gosh, Vinny, I'm so glad you read it! It really should be required reading. This book and Vides have a special spot in my heart. It's so beautifully written. This book and Say Nothing were top nonfiction for me last year. Have you read that one? 2y
Billypar @Suet624 Forché wrote Vides perfectly: I feel like I know him. Even amidst all the horror, there was something inspiring in how creatively he approached problems, emphasizing understanding of all sides. And in how Forché was able to journey from a place of ignorance to do all she ended up accomplishing on her own initiative. 2y
See All 7 Comments
Billypar @Suet624 I read 2/3 of Say Nothing but paced myself poorly and my Overdrive loan expired 😒 I'm still weeks away from getting it back, but yes, I was enjoying that one too and can't wait to finish it! 2y
Suet624 Vides was amazing. His skill in maneuvering through so many groups while being sure to keep Forche safe? Amazing. Truly a hero. 2y
Suet624 Did you see this? https://lithub.com/carolyn-forche-the-images-have-to-find-their-language I've seen some of her writing in this new book of hers. It's gorgeous. (edited) 2y
Billypar @Suet624 Ooh, I did not. Great excerpt- looking forward to listening to the full interview: thanks for passing along! I will definitely be checking out her poetry. 2y
46 likes2 stack adds7 comments
blurb
rmaclean4
post image

#weeklyforecast I will finish The Dutch House and maybe Riot Baby today. I have just started the tagged book. I am listening to The Girl in the Tower and should be able to get back to The Missing of Clairdelune later this week! If only I could read instead of work!!

review
tholmz
post image
Pickpick

One of the most in depth and fascinating and well written (true) stories I‘ve read in a long time.

14 likes2 stack adds
review
Sumi
post image
Pickpick

This was intense. Forche‘s memoir of San Salvador & what made her a political poet.

quote
Suet624
post image

This was a quote from a year or two before the civil war in El Salvador. The statement has echoed throughout my days since reading it. There is always a breaking point. Always.

I‘m having trouble returning this book to the library. I‘ve had a visceral reaction to it - I want to hold and protect it. I want to hold those who lived through those times and protect them. And I want to sit beside those who read it and talk with them about it.

Cathythoughts Sounds amazing ! Stacked 2y
Suet624 @Cathythoughts be sure to note my previous post. It‘s a brutal read. But being a poet, she adds so much in the telling of the story that it lingers like perfume. (edited) 2y
Suet624 @Cathythoughts the book I‘m currently read is clearly affecting my writing! (“lingers like perfume” 😂😂 wow) 2y
Reggie Lololol um I had totally matched on to that “lingers like perfume.” I dig authors who are poets!! 2y
Reggie Latched not matched. 2y
51 likes1 stack add5 comments
review
Suet624
post image
Pickpick

This memoir is dedicated to Leonel Gomez Vides, as it should be. Leonel teaches the author about the history, impending war, and the role of the US in the slaughter of citizens in El Salvador while keeping her out of harm‘s way during her time there. His work in brokering peace, after the brutal deaths of 100,000 citizens, is astonishing. This is an extremely difficult book to read. The brutality of men & the role of the US in it all is 😭🤬🤯.

Suet624 There are amazing reviews with personal experiences reported on Goodreads. Definitely worth a peek. 2y
54 likes6 stack adds1 comment
quote
Suet624
post image

A quote that NPR highlights from the book. While this quote is about the state of a nation, with gun deaths constantly on the rise, the oppression of guns, the NRA, the politicians who kowtow to the gun lobby and the angry white man came to mind this morning. Something better is definitely possible.

AmyG Each time I think maybe....this is the turning point. So now, again, I think.....maybe. (edited) 2y
BarbaraTheBibliophage This is so relevant. Thanks. 2y
Reggie Honestly, I don‘t think El Paso would have ever happened if there wasn‘t so much border talk, if we didn‘t have Trump, who said Mexicans were rapists and murderers, I lived 30 minutes away from El Paso for 10 years. I never felt unsafe when I was there. And for the longest time they were in the top 3 for safest cities that have populations of 500k or more. Yesterday broke my heart. 2y
Suet624 @Reggie I agree with you. Thank you for sharing your thoughts on this. I‘m so sorry. 2y
Suet624 @AmyG Me too. 2y
46 likes5 comments
blurb
Rhondareads
post image

Sounds like a fascinating memoir.