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What You Have Heard Is True: A Memoir of Witness and Resistance

Written by:
Carolyn Forché
Narrated by:
Carolyn Forché

Unabridged Audiobook

Release Date
March 2019
12 hours 18 minutes
2019 National Book Award Finalist

'Reading it will change you, perhaps forever.” —San Francisco Chronicle

“Astonishing, powerful, so important at this time.” --Margaret Atwood

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.

Carolyn Forché 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 Forché 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 Forché 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.
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Melissa H.

It took me awhile to get used to Forche's voice reading the book - not your typical engaging narrator. She is soft spoken without much inflection. The book also started out slowly, but became more engaging as it went along. It's amazing how young and fearless she was and how the experience changed her views on life. Will have you thinking about the state of the world and our part as Americans long after you've finished. I love Forche's book of poems "The Country Between Us" and if you haven't read them, I would encourage you to read it as a companion to the memoir.

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Annie S.

An awe inspiring story, hard to listen to, but so important. We Americans isolate ourselves in a world where we forget (or would rather not know) what goes on beyond our borders. Carolyn Forché had the courage to witness and tell us. If you believe that we are all one, let this book inspire you to find a way to help those who are stuck in places, lives, countries where human lives have no value. Your life will be enriched by what you learn here, by the depths you are made to feel and see. Leave the shallow waters and find the many layered darkness. You will not be the same person when you finish it.

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