White Cloud Free

by Peter Michael Johnson

About the Book

Set against the vibrant backdrop of Latin America, this semi-autobiographical novel follows the transformative journey of an idealistic, naive Peace Corps Volunteer named Peter, whose life takes an unexpected turn when tragedy strikes his remote village in Paraguay propelling him on a harrowing escape with a semi-homeless 12-year-old boy.

Their journey takes them through an indigenous community, a Mennonite colony, a squatters camp, and, finally, the lawless and chaotic city of Ciudad del Este. There, Peter confronts profound truths about himself, his faith, and the fluidity of memory. With the aid of a kind transgender sex worker who challenges his perspective on life and survival, Peter discovers he must forge a new path to redemption.

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Praise for White Cloud Free

“Imagine Joseph Conrad writing the great Peace Corps novel. White Cloud Free is heartbreaking, vast, and tough. Johnson splashes the colors of Latin America onto these pages.”

—Darin Strauss, author of Cheng & Eng

White Cloud Free is a well-structured thriller so convincing of place and characters the reader stops bothering to sort memory from enhanced memory, fact from fiction. The story has veracity; the narrative pace doesn’t allow you to wonder about how true what had happened because you want to read on to what will happen. It’s all totally believable, but you know you are being told a tale.

—Stephen Foehr, author of BIX: Because I Exist

“An amicable coming-of-age novel, a spiritual exploration of youth and a terrific primer on beekeeping. Highly recommended.”

—Tom Franklin, author of Crooked Letter, Crooked Letter

About the Author

Peter Johnson grew up in Colorado, Wisconsin, and Alabama. He studied English and philosophy at New York University, which somehow qualified him to serve in Peace Corps Paraguay, where he taught beekeeping to rural subsistence farmers. After the Peace Corps, Peter moved to Senegal to compete on the amateur beach wrestling circuit. He has worked for a variety of nonprofit organizations for most of his adult life. His writing (all focused on his experience in Paraguay) has appeared in literary journals including Dappled Things, Seven Hills Review, Rock & Sling and in a feature-length essay in the April 2017 issue of Christianity Today. He makes his home in Southwest Florida with his wife, Ashley, and three children.