Review — LOVE AND LATRINES IN THE LAND OF SPIDERWEB LACE by Mary Lou Shefsky (Paraguay)

 

Love and Latrines in the Land of Spiderweb Lace: A Peace Corps Memoir
by Mary Lou Shefsky (Paraguay 1974–76)
Blurb, 2021
218 pages
$38.89 (paperback – full color), $9.99 (Kindle)

Reviewed by Kim Herman (Dominican Republic 196  )

Mary Lou Shefsky

I thoroughly enjoyed reading this Peace Corps memoir because the book demonstrates Mary Lou Shefsky’s deep connections and commitment to the people and families she met during her service. I found the details in the book both surprising and enjoyable as she describes her work, her problems, and the deep relationships she develops with her Paraguayan friends and “family.”

She also writes about her many continuing visits with them, both in Paraguay and the US, following her service, which is a common theme among returned Volunteers who shared many great experiences with host country nationals and the people they served.

The many photographs in the book add a great deal to the story and provide insights into Mary Lou’s experiences and the people with whom she shared them.

Stephen & Mary Lou: “Courting in Paraguay” taken without our knowledge (Courtesy of Larry Hodgson)

An added feature of Mary Lou’s story is, of course, her developing relationship with her future husband, Stephen, who shares her commitment to both the people of Paraguay and their close relationships with their Paraguayan family. I liked the book so much I immediately purchased a copy for the daughter of a good friend who is thinking about joining Peace Corps so she could read about Mary Lou and Stephen’s real-life experiences as Volunteers.

Reviewer Kim Herman, who served with the Peace Corps for two years — 1967–69 — in the Dominican Republic as a Rural Community Development Volunteer in the late sixties. Because of his own Peace Corps experiences he went on to a career in the development of affordable housing for low-income families in the US.

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