Born in South America of parents, whose interest in the continent, went beyond the cursory, Amaranta Wright is a child of several cultures. Of her own admission, she feels South America beckoning and when Levi's offers her a 'job of a lifetime' involving what she thinks will be an all-expenses paid trip to the countries she always wanted to travel, she signs on. What follows is the story of her experiences with the youth of these countries and her search for pieces of their souls and their dreams, which she could then hand back over to Levi's so they could crunch it back into marketing speak and sell the dreams back to the South American youth.
Weaves paints word-portraits of the characters she meets both in South American and on her short trips back to the United States. One can visualise the landlord, the faded (lying, as they find later) star of Hollywood as well the boys who invite her to their ghetto for a party.
People from India, such as I am, are often inured to the gritty descriptions of poverty of the kind she writes. But having watched 'Cidade de Deus' without letting my inured brain to intervene, I was affected deeply by her descriptions. Hope is interwoven with dirt, grime and desperation but the tragedy is that this hope is being fed and watered only in the pursuit of profits, not so the youth could be truly lifted out of the hopelessness of their situation.
Wright's struggles with herself and her values while doing this 'job of a lifetime' are evident throughout the story, which makes it possible to finish the book, which sometimes rambles into tedium. Her devotion to South America is unfaltering, her writing style mostly conversational and never formal or pompous, her story telling vivid.
I read most of the book on airports, and travelling in blue denim jeans has not been the same since then.
I read this book in a couple of days. It is so well written and the subject so interesting that I could not put it down. I am gojng to teach English in Colombia in a week's time (my first time in South America) and I am grateful for such a compassionate portrait of Latin America's nations and peoples.
The author got the 'job of a lifetime' - travelling around her favourite continent interviewing young people on behalf of Levi's jeans. Her brief was to find what made them tick in order that they could be sold consumer goods more easily.
Aside from the brilliant pictures she paints of the countries she visits and people she meets, it is also a story of how she became thoroughly disillusioned with her dream job and the corporation she was serving.
Amaranta Wright is deeply deeply passionate about her cause - social justice - and deeply hositle to the causes of injustice. Working inside the machine she gains some original insights on Western Corporatism and branding/consumerism.
This book took me a chapter or 2 to get into, but once I adjusted to the author's unique style, I really enjoyed it; though the subject matter of multinationals colonizing youth minds for their consumer capacity in developing countries is disturbing. Then again, it's been practiced and perfected on American youth for years -- perhaps it is part of the world's learning curve -- that who has more products does not necessarily live or die happier. Wondering what the author is working on or at now ... all in all, I would recommend she write another book.
I recommend this book without thinking. It is an enterteining novel, and full of political history from Latin American countries, and written with sensitive and knowledgement. its a gorgeous and delightful book. You should buy it, you won't regret! Maria Hegouaburu.