The Forgetting River: A Modern Tale of Survival, Identity, and the Inquisition
Doreen Carvajal. New York: Riverhead Books, 2012. 320 pp. $26.95. ISBN 13: 978-1-59448-739-2
Wednesday, October 24, 2012
by: Peter Fekety

Section: Adult Book Reviews

Peter Fekety, Fort Worth Public Library, TX

New York Times and International Herald Tribune reporter Carvajal grew up in California believing that her family’s roots originated in the Catholic traditions of Costa Rica.  However, during a journalistic stint in Paris after the September 11 attacks, she begins to suspect that her true origins may instead lie within the Sephardic culture of 15th and 16th century Spain which had been virtually eradicated by the horrors of the Spanish Inquisition.  Determined to find out more after getting only vague responses to inquiries made of her family, she conducts a considerable amount of research on two continents, moves to the Andalusian village from which her father’s family came, and even goes through DNA testing to discover that, indeed, her family’s origins may have been quite different than those she grew up believing. 
This is a fascinating look at how genealogical research uncovered pieces of the history of the Sephardic culture not only in Spain, but also as it existed in the New World, and the effect this culture has had on the Catholicism practiced in these areas even today.

A lovely testament to one woman's passion for the unknown and an evocative look at a little-known corner of Spain. Recommended for public and academic libraries

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