When I Was Elena is an extraordinary account of a young American woman's sojourn in the guerrilla-infested mountains of Guatemala. Shattering the concept of a typical memoir, the author's personal story is interlaced, chapter-for-chapter, with tales told from the perspectives of seven indigenous women she encountered during her journey. At once a coming-of-age adventure and a haunting history of the struggle to overcome oppression - both personal and cultural - this genre-breaching work heralds the arrival of a daring new talent in American literature.
Ellen gives an overview of the book:
Like every lucky child who took pen in hand as a toddler, Ellen Urbani’s mother insisted she could be a writer. Like every typical child with an insistent mother, it took three decades--and a maturing transformation into her mother--before Ellen acquiesced and...