Rebel Mother: Book summary and reviews of Rebel Mother by Peter Andreas

Rebel Mother

My Childhood Chasing the Revolution

by Peter Andreas

Rebel Mother by Peter Andreas X
Rebel Mother by Peter Andreas
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  • Published in USA  Apr 2017
    336 pages
    Genre: Biographies/Memoirs

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Book Summary

The adventure tale and intimate true story of a boy on the run with his mother, a housewife turned radical who kidnapped her son and set off for South America in search of the revolution.

Carol Andreas was a traditional 1950s housewife from a small Mennonite town in central Kansas who became a radical feminist and Marxist revolutionary. From the late sixties to the early eighties, she went through multiple husbands and countless lovers while living in three states and five countries. She took her youngest son, Peter, with her wherever she went, even kidnapping him and running off to South America after his straitlaced father won a long and bitter custody fight.

They were chasing the revolution together, though the more they chased it the more distant it became. They battled the bad "isms" (sexism, imperialism, capitalism, fascism, consumerism), and fought for the good "isms" (feminism, socialism, communism, egalitarianism). They were constantly running, moving, hiding. Between the ages of five and eleven, Peter attended more than a dozen schools and lived in more than a dozen homes, moving from the comfortably bland suburbs of Detroit to a hippie commune in Berkeley to a socialist collective farm in pre-military coup Chile to highland villages and coastal shantytowns in Peru. When they secretly returned to America they settled down clandestinely in Denver, where his mother changed her name to hide from his father.

This is an extraordinary account of a deep mother-son bond and the joy and toll of growing up with a radical mother in a radical age. Andreas is an insightful and candid narrator whose unforgettable memoir gives new meaning to the old saying, "the personal is political."

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Reviews

Media Reviews

BookBrowse Review
"Peter Andreas tells the story (equal parts suspenseful and frightening) of being raised by a woman who was committed to a vision of revolutionary social change, and who saw her son as a partner in pursuing this vision. Not only unable to sacrifice that vision (and romantic entanglements) for the welfare of her child, she believes that to do so would harm him. The book meanders somewhat after the climactic moment of mother and son separated by miles of Chilean back country in the middle of bloody coup d'etat, but following the story to its conclusion is ultimately rewarding for those interested in the political landscape or toxic parental relationships." - Lucia Silva

Other Reviews
"Starred Review. Andreas's exuberant but clear-eyed memoir paints an indelible portrait of his charismatic mother, the era's expansive pursuit of freedom and idealistic commitment, and the toll of exhausted dreams and frayed relationships the idealists left behind." - Publishers Weekly

"Starred Review. A profound and enlightening memoir that will open readers up to different ideas about love, acceptance, and the bond between mother and son." - Library Journal

"An illuminating portrait of a childhood of excitement, adventure, and love positioned against the backdrop of 1970s-era South America." - Kirkus

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Reader Reviews

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Lorri

Motherhood as rebellion
No matter where you fall on whether you think Carol Andreas was a good mother or not, you will be forced to examine motherhood as an institution and what constitutes a happy childhood. Because Peter Andreas ends up happy and fulfilled with a career and a family and a stable home does this mean that Carol was a good mother, despite all outward appearances to the contrary or is it all just dumb luck that things turned out the way they did. There is much to be said for teaching your child to think critically and in the end I think that is what Peter took from his early life experiences. He may ultimately reject what his mother stands for, but he seems to come to it not from a place of anger or resentment, but from a place of considered thought. Great book group selection to discuss themes of motherhood, family, women's roles, siblings, etc.

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Peter Andreas is the John Hay Professor of International Studies at Brown University, where he holds a joint appointment between the Department of Political Science and the Watson Institute for International and Public Affairs. Andreas has published ten books, including Smuggler Nation: How Illicit Trade Made America. He has also written for a range of publications, including Foreign Affairs, Foreign Policy, The Guardian, Harpers, The Nation, The New Republic, Slate, and The Washington Post. A graduate of Swarthmore College and Cornell University, he lives with his family in Providence, Rhode Island.

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