Laura Restrepo takes readers back to the days of unrest in Colombia and Argentina during the “Dirty War” that lasted from 1976 to 1983. She does this as she recounts the story of her heroine's passion for the revolution and for the revolutionary hero who fathered her son.
The accounts are revealed as Lorenza and her son, Mateo, travel to Buenos Aires to find the man they both once loved, Ramon Irribarren. Although she includes a disclaimer regarding the similarity of characters and places in the book being fictitious, Restrepo has produced an authentic story that includes the ideological and emotional passions of an era that she herself lived through. It was an era when Marxist revolutionaries like Che Guevara were rallying idealists around the world into believing that they alone could create a world of perfect equality. Restrepo was part of that movement and thus has expertly captured the flavor and energy of those memorable times.
NO PLACE FOR HEROES finds a mother and her son on a journey to locate the man who both of them recall from more than a decade ago. They are curious to see if the man in the flesh will match the man in their minds. At first, one may think that Mateo is a young child, pouting and demanding that his mother tell him a story, the story of “the dark episode” that she had already told him a thousand times. But Mateo is a teenager, filled with the angst of many young men who have been left to be raised by their mothers when their fathers choose to abandon their responsibilities. A boy that age doesn't want to know about ideologies or philosophies; he wants to know the man who fathered him.
Along their journey from Bogota, Colombia, to Buenos Aires, Argentina, Lorenza and Mateo begin to understand one another on a deeper level through their meandering conversations about the past. Lorenza starts sharing more of her feelings rather than simply recounting events like the “dark episode” and others that followed. Mateo begins to show more interest in the events of his mother's past even when they don't involve him.
Once in Buenos Aires, Lorenza undergoes the almost impossible task of trying to locate a man who was known for being able to disappear in plain sight. With forged identities and a network of comrades to help him, Ramon would be an illusive quest. Yet there were also those from Lorenza's past willing to help her, and soon she and Mateo gain some solid leads on Ramon's whereabouts. Both wondered if the man would resent being found. After all, he harbored his own resentments toward Lorenza for leaving him in the first place.
NO PLACE FOR HEROES is a memoir of sorts, and although most of the action takes place in retrospect, there are many mysteries that keep the reader guessing until the last few pages. Yet, as in every good story, things are not always as they seem, and those who hope for resolution, if not complete reconciliation, will not be disappointed.
No Place for Heroes