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Ruthless River: Love and Survival by Raft on the Amazon's Relentless Madre de Dios

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Holly FitzGerald and her husband, Fitz—married less than two years—set out on a yearlong honeymoon adventure of a lifetime, backpacking around the world. Five months into the trip, their plane crash-lands in Peru at a penal colony walled in by jungle, and their blissfully romantic journey turns into a terrifying nonstop labyrinth of escape and survival. On a small, soon-rav Holly FitzGerald and her husband, Fitz—married less than two years—set out on a yearlong honeymoon adventure of a lifetime, backpacking around the world. Five months into the trip, their plane crash-lands in Peru at a penal colony walled in by jungle, and their blissfully romantic journey turns into a terrifying nonstop labyrinth of escape and survival. On a small, soon-ravaged raft that quickly becomes their entire universe through dangerous waters alive with deadly animals and fish, their only choice: to continue on despite the rush of insects swarming them by day, the sounds of encroaching predators at night. Without food or means of communication, with no one to hear their cries for help or on a search-and-rescue expedition to find them, the author and her husband make their way, fighting to conquer starvation and navigate the brute force of the river, their only hope for survival, in spite of hunger and weakening resolve, to somehow, miraculously, hang on and find their way east to a large riverside town—before it is too late.


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Holly FitzGerald and her husband, Fitz—married less than two years—set out on a yearlong honeymoon adventure of a lifetime, backpacking around the world. Five months into the trip, their plane crash-lands in Peru at a penal colony walled in by jungle, and their blissfully romantic journey turns into a terrifying nonstop labyrinth of escape and survival. On a small, soon-rav Holly FitzGerald and her husband, Fitz—married less than two years—set out on a yearlong honeymoon adventure of a lifetime, backpacking around the world. Five months into the trip, their plane crash-lands in Peru at a penal colony walled in by jungle, and their blissfully romantic journey turns into a terrifying nonstop labyrinth of escape and survival. On a small, soon-ravaged raft that quickly becomes their entire universe through dangerous waters alive with deadly animals and fish, their only choice: to continue on despite the rush of insects swarming them by day, the sounds of encroaching predators at night. Without food or means of communication, with no one to hear their cries for help or on a search-and-rescue expedition to find them, the author and her husband make their way, fighting to conquer starvation and navigate the brute force of the river, their only hope for survival, in spite of hunger and weakening resolve, to somehow, miraculously, hang on and find their way east to a large riverside town—before it is too late.

30 review for Ruthless River: Love and Survival by Raft on the Amazon's Relentless Madre de Dios

  1. 4 out of 5

    Cindy

    Goodness. I struggled with the rating on this one. Going with a 2.5 rounded up to a three. These folks ended up floating / drifting down a South American river on a precarious raft with very little in the way of supplies. Their situation was the result of a cluster of bad decisions fueled by the idiocy and impatience of youth. Bad luck had a small hand in their fate but they had good luck as well or this book would have never happened. And when they gave their bags to a random toothless guy with Goodness. I struggled with the rating on this one. Going with a 2.5 rounded up to a three. These folks ended up floating / drifting down a South American river on a precarious raft with very little in the way of supplies. Their situation was the result of a cluster of bad decisions fueled by the idiocy and impatience of youth. Bad luck had a small hand in their fate but they had good luck as well or this book would have never happened. And when they gave their bags to a random toothless guy with a machete and a wheelbarrow who then took off running through the jungle? This even turned out ok! I mean seriously. I think they were actually extremely lucky. They made one bad decision after another and lived to tell the tale. Good on you! But I am aware that I am again in the minority. I love adventure and survival books but this one irritated the stuffing out of me. I found myself shaking my head and rolling my eyes a lot. I guess my biggest problem was with the writing. It was dialogue heavy and a lot of it was redundant. I'm unclear how you remember so much word for word dialogue after 45 years. It's just weird. And there were soooo many references to hair. Ummm..yea, I get it. Fritz has curly hair and you like to run your fingers through it. Come on! Say something else. I did like the flashbacks because they broke up the monotonous dialogue but that just gave me more insight into their cores. In one flashback, Fritz drunkenly stumbles outside their remote east coast cabin and screams into the air that all their neighbors are Nazis. And this is because no one showed up to their party? Wow. One more pet peeve. The God thing...ummm....God didn't forsake you. You made really, really stupid decisions. God didn't send you special little frogs, snails and worms because he wanted you to eat. They were part of that ecosystem. Just my opinion. Tough audience, party of one. :)

  2. 4 out of 5

    Donna

    This book is truly about a trip to hell, staying awhile and then getting back. This is a non-fiction story about a young couple getting lost on the Amazon, unable to get help. The story was suspenseful. I kept thinking, "What else could possible go wrong?" only to have that question answered in the affirmative with the next paragraph. The story is definitely worth reading. This did get repetitive which caused some eye rolling. And some where after the first half, it started feeling long. This boo This book is truly about a trip to hell, staying awhile and then getting back. This is a non-fiction story about a young couple getting lost on the Amazon, unable to get help. The story was suspenseful. I kept thinking, "What else could possible go wrong?" only to have that question answered in the affirmative with the next paragraph. The story is definitely worth reading. This did get repetitive which caused some eye rolling. And some where after the first half, it started feeling long. This book could have been shorter, but it was still quite intense.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Caryn

    3.5 stars. A fascinating account of a couple on their honeymoon stranded in the South American jungle. Parts reminded me of Unbroken when they were stranded in the ocean. Thought it could have been a bit shorter, hence reason for lower rating. It's hard to read about their circumstances but it was a place and scenario I've never read about before. 3.5 stars. A fascinating account of a couple on their honeymoon stranded in the South American jungle. Parts reminded me of Unbroken when they were stranded in the ocean. Thought it could have been a bit shorter, hence reason for lower rating. It's hard to read about their circumstances but it was a place and scenario I've never read about before.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Joy D

    True story of Holly and “Fitz” FitzGerald’s journey down the Rio Madre de Dios in Bolivia in 1973. As young newly marrieds, they decide to honeymoon in the Amazon Rainforest. They took some pretty extreme risks, in line with the inexperience and bravado of youth. It is a story of endurance in harsh conditions and working together to try to figure out how to survive. I found it engrossing. It shows that love and optimism can play a key role in survival. As an armchair traveler, I enjoyed reading True story of Holly and “Fitz” FitzGerald’s journey down the Rio Madre de Dios in Bolivia in 1973. As young newly marrieds, they decide to honeymoon in the Amazon Rainforest. They took some pretty extreme risks, in line with the inexperience and bravado of youth. It is a story of endurance in harsh conditions and working together to try to figure out how to survive. I found it engrossing. It shows that love and optimism can play a key role in survival. As an armchair traveler, I enjoyed reading about their adventures – just don’t ask me to follow in their footsteps!

  5. 5 out of 5

    Lisa K

    Let me save everyone some time: some white people with zero patience wanted an adventure and when their plane crashed they decided to take a log raft down the amazon instead of waiting for another one. This reads like the type of long Facebook post that made me quit Facebook.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Alison

    This was quite a harrowing adventure that this couple took after their wedding. Holly and Fritz were going to travel the world for a year and while in Peru and just 5 months into their travels, they take a small plane from one jungle town in Peru to another in Bolivia both of which run along the Madre de Dios river in the Amazon. Their plane crash landed a short while later , luckily no one was hurt, but the only place nearby was a penal colony in the Peruvian jungle, where they would stay for a This was quite a harrowing adventure that this couple took after their wedding. Holly and Fritz were going to travel the world for a year and while in Peru and just 5 months into their travels, they take a small plane from one jungle town in Peru to another in Bolivia both of which run along the Madre de Dios river in the Amazon. Their plane crash landed a short while later , luckily no one was hurt, but the only place nearby was a penal colony in the Peruvian jungle, where they would stay for a few nights before deciding what to do. It turned out either they needed to wait a couple of months for transportation, or they were told that they could take a raft, and with the rapid currents arrive at their destination, soon. So thinking it would be easy, they made a few adjustments to a raft they were given, and thinking they could get food from natives along the way took off. The first few days seemed easy enough but then a storm hit throwing them off course, and here is where the nail biting 27 days stranded, with no food starts. This story will make it hard for you to stop reading, as you want to see if they make it out of this predicament. It was also interesting to see how they held it together during this time, how it affected both their mental and physical state. A very engrossing read, and a journey worth taking. Thank you NetGalley and Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group

  7. 5 out of 5

    Clara

    I started this one afternoon and kept reading pretty much straight thru to the end with occasional pauses, many of them to get food (a comment you will understand if you read the book). This is an amazing story of adventure, youthful foolishness, and luck (both good and bad). Try it!

  8. 4 out of 5

    Janilyn Kocher

    Ruthless River is a story of a couple's survival in the South American jungle after naively believing they could placidly float down the river to the next location. They might have been that lucky too, if a storm hadn't veered them off the main river. What followed was survival due to sheer grit, tenacity, and a miraculous discovery. It's a great read, if not nerve wracking. Ruthless River is a story of a couple's survival in the South American jungle after naively believing they could placidly float down the river to the next location. They might have been that lucky too, if a storm hadn't veered them off the main river. What followed was survival due to sheer grit, tenacity, and a miraculous discovery. It's a great read, if not nerve wracking.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Suzanne

    (this is a cut and paste of the review I wrote for Amazon) I got this book in the mail yesterday, thought to myself "I'll just read a page or two" and next thing I knew, it was late at night and I was finishing it. It's that kind of book---completely captivating. The plot in a nutshell---Holly and Fitz are on an extended honeymoon in South America in the early 70s. A series of events (a plane crash, a town without transportation out, a rafting trip everyone assures them is perfectly safe, a storm) (this is a cut and paste of the review I wrote for Amazon) I got this book in the mail yesterday, thought to myself "I'll just read a page or two" and next thing I knew, it was late at night and I was finishing it. It's that kind of book---completely captivating. The plot in a nutshell---Holly and Fitz are on an extended honeymoon in South America in the early 70s. A series of events (a plane crash, a town without transportation out, a rafting trip everyone assures them is perfectly safe, a storm) lead to them being stranded off course, unable to fight the current and get back where they need to be. And slowly, they are starving to death. I don't think there could be much of a better description of what it would feel like to starve to death, to be dying not in a dramatic way but in a slow and exhausting way than the author's telling here. It's easy to write about high drama, but much harder to write well about the little details that add up to a growing horror, and it's amazingly done here. It's hard to believe the author hasn't written anything else. If you like adventure tales, travel tales, or even tales of marriage and its tests, this is a book you'll want to read. I will be recommending it to many.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Char Freund

    Intense read making it a page turner that I read in two days. But couldn’t help wondering at the naivety of the main characters. Their spontaneousness in adjusting itinerary without proper preparedness was more a badge of foolery than free spiritedness. Something I read more about (as a nurse): Can a parasite remain dormant for decades? Google Vietnam parasite and liver cancer. Can only give 3/5 as it wasn’t the best written tale of survival. Read River of Doubt about Teddy Roosevelt’s 1912 Amazo Intense read making it a page turner that I read in two days. But couldn’t help wondering at the naivety of the main characters. Their spontaneousness in adjusting itinerary without proper preparedness was more a badge of foolery than free spiritedness. Something I read more about (as a nurse): Can a parasite remain dormant for decades? Google Vietnam parasite and liver cancer. Can only give 3/5 as it wasn’t the best written tale of survival. Read River of Doubt about Teddy Roosevelt’s 1912 Amazon adventure for a more detailed account of the symbiosis of plants and animals, the indigenous tribes, and the harshness of the river and surrounding jungle. One comment from ROD that stands out is the madness than can develop from the monotonous sameness of surroundings whether it is months at sea or along an uncharted river. There are also some overlapping situations: the fixation on food when it is not available, rethinking the type of water vehicle, the swarms of insects and their nerve racking effect, and the dangerous fish in the Amazon.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Barb

    Spoiler Alert: plot, outcome I know a lot of people loved this book. And it's an amazing story. For me, the delivery was flat, felt inauthentic, and left me feeling....cheated. Who ARE these people? What are their circumstances that made it possible for them to actually be on this adventure (and so many others, later in life?) And across the course of 30+ days of facing relentless terror and starvation did they really NEVER have a cross word for each other? If so, then they really need to be writ Spoiler Alert: plot, outcome I know a lot of people loved this book. And it's an amazing story. For me, the delivery was flat, felt inauthentic, and left me feeling....cheated. Who ARE these people? What are their circumstances that made it possible for them to actually be on this adventure (and so many others, later in life?) And across the course of 30+ days of facing relentless terror and starvation did they really NEVER have a cross word for each other? If so, then they really need to be writing a tell-all book about the secrets to their extraordinary emotional regulation; the world needs THAT. Disappointing.

  12. 4 out of 5

    MacWithBooksonMountains Marcus

    The account has potential. Sadly, the narrator just swamps the reader with sentimentality and semi hysteria. The narrators whiney soft voice doesn’t exactly help. A lost opportunity - this could have been a great survival story.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Noorilhuda

    It’s hard to tell how much dramatic license has been taken in this well-done nail-biting trip-in-hell that’s incredibly a true story - a newlywed couple have the astoundingly dumb idea to go ‘sailing’ in the Amazon to move from point A to B, when they have zero experience of rafts, place, river, weather and survival - but know that the water may have piranhas, caimans, snakes and alligators. They also bundle too little food, thinking they’ll just ‘catch a fish’ out there! Also well-done is the pa It’s hard to tell how much dramatic license has been taken in this well-done nail-biting trip-in-hell that’s incredibly a true story - a newlywed couple have the astoundingly dumb idea to go ‘sailing’ in the Amazon to move from point A to B, when they have zero experience of rafts, place, river, weather and survival - but know that the water may have piranhas, caimans, snakes and alligators. They also bundle too little food, thinking they’ll just ‘catch a fish’ out there! Also well-done is the pace and frequent ‘breathers’ / flashbacks that form a macabre good-old-days to the horrifying reality of being lost and hopeless. Especially in the case of Holly, who was born with a silver spoon and had the best of the best in everything. The pics are at the end of the book. I am surprised that the couple did not click any pics in the 26 days they were in Lago Santa Maria (channel off the actual Madre De Dios) other than a single shot of the raft. Irritants: a) The entire behavior of Holly (and Fitz) after being rescued purely by chance: e.g. on being rescued by the locals (‘Indians’) who allow them to bring valuables on their small canoe, Holly cribs about the Indians tearing the ‘Pink Palace’ and ‘Balsa’ rafts to shreds looking for ‘nails, oil can, floor boards’ (they are poor people for God’s sake); they are also suspicious of the Indians (if they wanted to kill you, they would have done it next to your beloved rafts); they reward one of the Indians with ‘10 rings made of straw’ (!) - only to take their white hen and 3 eggs which amounted to a week’s wage for the poor fellows; sleeping in the very cozy humane back-to-civilization sitting room in Barraca Santo Domingo, Holly cribs about the floor and mosquitoes; they decide to continue their ‘journey’ in Riberalta despite the fact that any other sensible person would have taken a few days rest and replenishment after a 26-day starvation (or slug-snail, baby frog diet) and a thorough check-up for any water-borne diseases; they fall near a hospital, have difficulty walking towards it but have enough strength to chat up the nuns. b) What happened to Roque, Silverio and Gregoria in the decades following the incident? c) I did not like the way Holly mentions her ‘New Fairfield’ neighbors - she and Fitz rented a cottage near the place and she instantly calls the ‘mostly German’ residents as ‘xenophobic’ apart from recounting how she went to invite them ‘personally’ to her party and not only did no one open the door, none of them came to her party either. Her ‘inebriated’ husband calls them ‘Nazis’. d) I did not believe the saved teaspoon of sugar, nor the bee arrival and stings, nor the conversations between the couple. But then again, they have been married 47 years. If you can get hitched to someone after two months of dating and then stay happily married, anything’s possible.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Emily Crow

    This book is firmly within one of my favorite unofficial genres, "the travelogue from hell." The author relates the experience that she and her husband endured when they decided to go rafting in the Amazon back in the early 1970s. Things went wrong, and they ended up stranded in a remote part of the jungle for almost a month, nearly starving to death before they were rescued. Travel experience from hell? Absolutely. The kind of story that makes me think, "Maybe it's not entirely bad that I'm stu This book is firmly within one of my favorite unofficial genres, "the travelogue from hell." The author relates the experience that she and her husband endured when they decided to go rafting in the Amazon back in the early 1970s. Things went wrong, and they ended up stranded in a remote part of the jungle for almost a month, nearly starving to death before they were rescued. Travel experience from hell? Absolutely. The kind of story that makes me think, "Maybe it's not entirely bad that I'm stuck in central Illinois for the foreseeable future and won't be having experiences like this." Holly Fitzgerald is not a bad writer, and her story is very detailed and earnest. I would recommend it to anyone who enjoys reading tales of travel gone wrong. And yet, I found this just an average, three-star read. I'm not sure what's missing, but I would guess the key ingredient is self-reflection. Fitzgerald and her husband had a truly awful experience and lived to tell the tale, but she never really convinced me that they really learned from it or integrated it into their lives. On the contrary, they seem to want to pick up their backpacks again almost immediately, without a pause for reflection. And I guess that's okay; some people are like that, and they have stories too. I just wanted a bit more at the end to bring it all together. Overall: worth a read, but not my favorite in the genre.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Rorie Oglesby

    This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here. This book was extremely engaging. I found myself on days when I was the passenger in the business vehicle with no air, relating to the author about the sticky never-ending heat and appreciating all the food I was eating like it was a delicacy. My mind stayed on that brown river and swamp even when I was too busy with life to be able to pick up the book, and dreaming about what might happen next. A few things that still drive me crazy are the whirl-pooling suction noise that would come each night This book was extremely engaging. I found myself on days when I was the passenger in the business vehicle with no air, relating to the author about the sticky never-ending heat and appreciating all the food I was eating like it was a delicacy. My mind stayed on that brown river and swamp even when I was too busy with life to be able to pick up the book, and dreaming about what might happen next. A few things that still drive me crazy are the whirl-pooling suction noise that would come each night at a certain time, it definitely is a bummer to never find out what that was. That's the thing about memoirs though I guess; real life sometimes doesn't come with answers. Also, one other small pet-peeve. She took pictures the whole time as a photographer, but in all the 26 days they were imprisoned on their raft she never once thought to take a picture of the place they were one day away from dying in. Really great read.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Renate Flynn

    3.5 stars The hell that adventure brings, yet which cannot quench the desire for more. Incredible story. How I long to know the names of the butterflies, trees, frogs, bees, plants and all other wildlife Holly and Fitz saw and experienced. Audio version is excellent.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Jean Kroeber

    I just finished this book, which I had seen noted over a year ago and ordered in paperback. I read it straight through and was enthralled -- especially reading the longest section -- on the couple's jungle survival on that raft called the "Pink Palace". I noticed a great many critical comments on the seeming naivete of the young married couple even though she had already been working as a therapist for a few years and he was a Vietnam veteran and both wanted to travel. It was the 70s...that's how I just finished this book, which I had seen noted over a year ago and ordered in paperback. I read it straight through and was enthralled -- especially reading the longest section -- on the couple's jungle survival on that raft called the "Pink Palace". I noticed a great many critical comments on the seeming naivete of the young married couple even though she had already been working as a therapist for a few years and he was a Vietnam veteran and both wanted to travel. It was the 70s...that's how it was. (Although I would have thought they both would have read more intensely about the Amazon and what pitfalls might occur). That Holly and her beloved Fitz survived the jungle raft trip after such a long time of absolute starvation, the horror of being covered by stinging bees over several days on top of mosquito bites, never seeing a way out although doing all they could to try to find an exit back out to the river -- I found breathtaking. I completely understood Holly's reverential descriptions since they were both not religious, and more and more I could see the letting go resignation but still with the belief that God was there (especially alluded to whenever they found enough frogs and grubs to eat toward the end of their time in the swamp). And I thought a lot about this in connection with the two Indian men but here I don't want to say more because I do not want to spoil reading this intriguing story for anyone. I was surprised to learn that Ms. Fitzgerald actually wrote this more than 40 years after the fact. I applaud her courage in doing so and thank her helpers along the way because as dramatic as this saga was and is, with all her travels, she probably has more stories that would intrigue many people.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Catherine

    Another book full of reasons I will never, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever explore the Amazon (or any of its tributaries): First of all, the river is called MOTHER OF GOD!!! Isn't that enough of a warning? In the early 1970s, a young American couple (a Vietnam vet turned writer and a therapist) decide to take an extended trip around the world, starting in South America. After a series of mishaps, including their small commuter plane crashing at a penal colony in the middle of the jungle, they Another book full of reasons I will never, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever explore the Amazon (or any of its tributaries): First of all, the river is called MOTHER OF GOD!!! Isn't that enough of a warning? In the early 1970s, a young American couple (a Vietnam vet turned writer and a therapist) decide to take an extended trip around the world, starting in South America. After a series of mishaps, including their small commuter plane crashing at a penal colony in the middle of the jungle, they decide to navigate the 400 miles down a winding river, during the rainy season, on a raft. They get washed into a flooded offshoot during a storm and are stuck there for almost a month. Obviously, they eventually get rescued, since the author wrote this memoir 40 years later. Overall, the story was pretty amazing and entertaining -- but the day after day on the raft became very slow and repetitive. I feel like it could have been a lot shorter. A few thoughts: The author's husband (nicknamed Fitz, presumably because his/their last name is FitzGerald) comes off as a bit of an ass, even though that doesn't seem like the author's intention. Fitz is/was a writer -- poetry, newspaper articles, etc -- and yet, Holly is the one who wrote this book, after being urged by her daughter to take a memoir-writing class. How different would the book be if Fitz had written it? And why didn't he write about their adventures (beyond the articles for the local paper that he was sending as they traveled)?

  19. 5 out of 5

    Alissa

    3.75. I loved it and read it in basically two sittings. My only reason for it being -1.25 is that it lacked real grit. There must have been more awful components to 20+ days in the jungle (mentally, emotionally, relationship-wise, even bodily)? I also wish the beginning was more developed, I felt plopped in to the story essentially ‘mid-trip’ which was lacking to me. I thought she was a pretty good writer ((I might be in the minority here)) but I wouldn’t have minded a little more background and 3.75. I loved it and read it in basically two sittings. My only reason for it being -1.25 is that it lacked real grit. There must have been more awful components to 20+ days in the jungle (mentally, emotionally, relationship-wise, even bodily)? I also wish the beginning was more developed, I felt plopped in to the story essentially ‘mid-trip’ which was lacking to me. I thought she was a pretty good writer ((I might be in the minority here)) but I wouldn’t have minded a little more background and filler to get to know them better as people. Lastly, I felt like the ending and epilogue were hurried. It sounded like they had dozens more adventures together. So I almost wish this had been the main story in a bigger work of their travel life. Especially if she really dug in and let her guard down a little more! Overall- it’s a great “I shouldn’t be alive” story and a fun, quick read that I really enjoyed and recommend.

  20. 5 out of 5

    Daniel S.

    The hallmark of good adventure writing is the sympathetic protagonist. Whether it’s the capable and experienced party confronted with an unexpected natural event (Dead Mountain) or the individual who blunders admittedly into disaster (127 Hours), the protagonist should be someone whose ultimate fate is interesting to the reader. There are no sympathetic protagonists in Ruthless River. The book recounts the foolhardy misadventure of a couple on honeymoon. They nearly blunder into death but don’t s The hallmark of good adventure writing is the sympathetic protagonist. Whether it’s the capable and experienced party confronted with an unexpected natural event (Dead Mountain) or the individual who blunders admittedly into disaster (127 Hours), the protagonist should be someone whose ultimate fate is interesting to the reader. There are no sympathetic protagonists in Ruthless River. The book recounts the foolhardy misadventure of a couple on honeymoon. They nearly blunder into death but don’t seem to learn anything or experience any personal growth as a result of their mistakes. A certain Christian fatalism pervades the book and comes across as unnecessarily preachy and moralizing.

  21. 4 out of 5

    Stephanie Griffin

    I listened to the audiobook and the narrator was not good. I recommend this book if its a paperback! A privileged white woman and her husband think they can ride the Madre de Dios river 40 miles on a raft they built on their own...guess what happens? Maybe it was the narrator making Holly sound shrill, but it was satisfying to hear about them eating slimy things out of the opaque river while reminiscing about lobster dinners. I had no sympathy for them.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Jeimy

    The author recounts the twenty something days she spent stranded with her husband after they lost their way while trying to raft downriver towards Bolivia in the Madre de Dios River. The book begins with a plane crash that lands them in a penal colony in the middle of the jungle and goes downhill from there.

  23. 5 out of 5

    Forrest

    This is a fantastic memoir of a young couple honeymooning in South America in the 1970's when they naively chose to travel by raft down the Madre De Dios river from Puerto Maldonado, Peru to Riberalta, Bolivia. The trip would last several days. They ended up getting lost, stranded out in the middle of the sweltering, bug infested jungle. This was particularly interesting for me because it brought me back several years ago when my wife and I embarked on a trip similar to theirs (except we never b This is a fantastic memoir of a young couple honeymooning in South America in the 1970's when they naively chose to travel by raft down the Madre De Dios river from Puerto Maldonado, Peru to Riberalta, Bolivia. The trip would last several days. They ended up getting lost, stranded out in the middle of the sweltering, bug infested jungle. This was particularly interesting for me because it brought me back several years ago when my wife and I embarked on a trip similar to theirs (except we never became lost). In 2007 we threw everything in storage and spent 4 months traveling throughout Peru and Bolivia. Our trip included some of the places the author mentioned visiting such as Lima, La Paz, Cusco, and Puno. Our trip included the mountainous rain forest northeast of Lake Titicaca as well as Parque Nacional Carrasco northeast of Cochabamba. We traveled along "Death Road" to Caranavi. We had intended to travel deeper into the Bolivian Amazonas but flooding in the region in February 2007 prevented us from doing so. Our trip included dozens of cities, parks, villages, etc throughout both countries. We even managed to embark on a 5-day excursion along the Amazon River east of Iquitos Peru. The jungle is as terrifying and amazing as the author describes. The mosquitos are bigger than those in the U.S. and can penetrate clothing. My wife who was wearing tight jeans developed large welts up and down her legs. We visited villages on the trip including a "native tribal village". In truth, these were actors who entertained tourists for a living, but it made no difference to us and the experience was phenomenal as well as safe. Reaching an actual tribal village requires a river plane or several days by river and on foot. It is also dangerous and requires permission from authorities. Besides, many who embark on such a quest return without ever contacting anyone or are refused contact by the tribe. The jungle never sleeps. The constant drone of insects accompanied us wherever we went day and night. We fished for piranha and witnessed all kids of wildlife including caymans (crocks), anacondas, boas, pink river dolphins, strange looking turtles, and all kids of birds, insects, reptiles, vegetation, flowers, and lily pads the size of a van. Even a giant tapir walked right through our campsite. The Amazon is an incredible place. It's beauty and ferocity is unlike anywhere else on Earth.

  24. 4 out of 5

    Patti

    Two young newlyweds embark on an impossible journey down a mysterious river somewhere in the rainforests between Bolivia, Peru and Brazil. They come about as close to death by starvation as they can before an amazing discovery. Their survival comes in phases: attempts to escape; resignation and exhaustion aboard the plastic Pink Palace tent; and finally a desperate daily search for food that yields small frogs, snails and an occasional berry to eat. Their rescue by two monkey hunters is beautifu Two young newlyweds embark on an impossible journey down a mysterious river somewhere in the rainforests between Bolivia, Peru and Brazil. They come about as close to death by starvation as they can before an amazing discovery. Their survival comes in phases: attempts to escape; resignation and exhaustion aboard the plastic Pink Palace tent; and finally a desperate daily search for food that yields small frogs, snails and an occasional berry to eat. Their rescue by two monkey hunters is beautiful. I find myself wanting to know how these two people lived their lives. The author is probably about 71 or 72 now. What was her life like? Does she truly live each day as a day in paradise like she promised on the raft? "My life, like the Madre, is a running river: widening, moving forward, always changing. It is sometimes calm, sometimes raging, often joyously rippling. I am ever curious about what lies around the bend." by Holly FitzGerald

  25. 5 out of 5

    Erik

    I really enjoyed this one for a number of reasons: I liked the fact that this was a true story, written by one of the participants/survivors of this ordeal. Rather than spoiling the suspense of how the tale would end, it added to my enjoyment, because I wasn't thinking "How could the author possibly know that?" (Which invariably happen in stories where the participants don't survive to tell the true tale) People stranded for days on end with one day as tedious as the last makes for a tough story. I really enjoyed this one for a number of reasons: I liked the fact that this was a true story, written by one of the participants/survivors of this ordeal. Rather than spoiling the suspense of how the tale would end, it added to my enjoyment, because I wasn't thinking "How could the author possibly know that?" (Which invariably happen in stories where the participants don't survive to tell the true tale) People stranded for days on end with one day as tedious as the last makes for a tough story. I thought that the author did an excellent job of keeping my interest.

  26. 5 out of 5

    Hella Comat

    Another great suggestion from you, Dianne! Yikes, I stayed up late, really late, last night to finish this book. Although it was obvious that they survived, since the author was writing the book, I was agonizing over how the couple were going to escape their entrapment in the channel off the river in Bolivia. They were lucky! Well, after some bad luck with the storm that put them off course. I couldn't believe what a risk it was for them to set off without any navigational aids (well it was the Another great suggestion from you, Dianne! Yikes, I stayed up late, really late, last night to finish this book. Although it was obvious that they survived, since the author was writing the book, I was agonizing over how the couple were going to escape their entrapment in the channel off the river in Bolivia. They were lucky! Well, after some bad luck with the storm that put them off course. I couldn't believe what a risk it was for them to set off without any navigational aids (well it was the early 70s) on the advice of strangers!

  27. 4 out of 5

    BookTrib.com

    Holly and Fitz Fitzgerald, a newlywed couple enjoying their extended honeymoon, find themselves crash-landed in the center of the Peruvian jungle. Their only salvation? A small raft, crudely built from whatever materials they could find. This book had us on our toes the entire read! For our entire review - and for more books you won't be able to put down - click here! https://booktrib.com/2017/07/9-inspir... Holly and Fitz Fitzgerald, a newlywed couple enjoying their extended honeymoon, find themselves crash-landed in the center of the Peruvian jungle. Their only salvation? A small raft, crudely built from whatever materials they could find. This book had us on our toes the entire read! For our entire review - and for more books you won't be able to put down - click here! https://booktrib.com/2017/07/9-inspir...

  28. 5 out of 5

    Sharon Rasey

    While the story itself was a compelling and epic adventure, I found some of the writing irritating. There were constant descriptions and mentioning of hair, her's and his, the color of eyes and references to divine intervention that I found to be unnecessary to the narrative. While I did enjoy most of it I found myself rolling my eyes more than once. While the story itself was a compelling and epic adventure, I found some of the writing irritating. There were constant descriptions and mentioning of hair, her's and his, the color of eyes and references to divine intervention that I found to be unnecessary to the narrative. While I did enjoy most of it I found myself rolling my eyes more than once.

  29. 4 out of 5

    Lau

    I know this was the 70's but they made a LOT of bad choices landing them in such an awful predicament. Nevertheless the prevailed thankfully and lived to tell the tale of surviving on a small raft whilst crossing the Amazon. I did love how strong their relationship was though and was inspired by their perseverance. I know this was the 70's but they made a LOT of bad choices landing them in such an awful predicament. Nevertheless the prevailed thankfully and lived to tell the tale of surviving on a small raft whilst crossing the Amazon. I did love how strong their relationship was though and was inspired by their perseverance.

  30. 5 out of 5

    Sandy Begley

    I couldn't put the book down. Having been to the Amazon, the descriptions of the river were so vivid you felt like you were on the river with Holly and Fitz. It's hard to believe Holly wrote this over forty years after the adventure. Well done. I couldn't put the book down. Having been to the Amazon, the descriptions of the river were so vivid you felt like you were on the river with Holly and Fitz. It's hard to believe Holly wrote this over forty years after the adventure. Well done.

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