Book Review: There Is No Me Without You: One Woman's Odyssey to Rescue Africa's Children
>Subject: Review-a-Day: There Is No Me Without You: One Woman's Odyssey to Rescue Africa's Children
>Today's Review From
>Christian Science Monitor
>There Is No Me Without You: One Woman's Odyssey to Rescue Africa's Children
>by Melissa Faye Greene
>Read today's review in HTML at:
>Mother to a Lost Generation
> A review by Marjorie Kehe
>In a small town outside Atlanta, a little Ethiopian girl is talking
>to her adoptive American mother. She is trying to explain how
>she felt while she and her younger brother were still in the orphanage
>in Addis Ababa.
>"I have no hope," she recalls. The trouble, she explains, was
>that she didn't yet know her adoptive parents were on their way.
>"I am cry because I don't know you will coming," she says.
>With great love, her new mother tells her, "I was here getting
>ready, getting your rooms ready. I was here, me and your daddy,
>waiting and getting ready."
>It's fortunate that Melissa Fay Greene's There Is No Me Without
>You is occasionally studded with gems like the one above, tender
>vignettes of remarkable children finding joy in the arms of loving
>new families. If Greene did not have such lovely (and true) stories
>to share, the heartwrenching facts about Africa's AIDs orphans
>outlined in this book would be more than the average reader could
>The stark truth, Greene reminds us, is that "for most of Africa's
>ten million, fifteen million, twenty million orphans, no one is
>getting a room ready. No one will come."
>This is an extremely grim topic somehow shaped into a truly inspiring
>There Is No Me Without You is the story of an unlikely heroine,
>a squat, bossy, middle-class Ethiopian woman who paid little heed
>to the AIDS crisis threatening her country until it took the life
>of her daughter.
>Then, in the depths of a grief that almost destroyed her, Haregowin
>Teferra was asked to take in an orphaned teenager. Because of
>that one child, her eyes were suddenly opened to the hundreds
>of thousands of Ethiopian children left without parents or even
>In an impoverished country with little in the way of institutional
>care, these children literally had nowhere to go. So Haregowin
>said yes to another teen, then to two little sisters. Eventually
>she had seven children living with her, then 12, then 15, then
>18, then 32. Before she knew it, she had become a foundation,
>crusading for hundreds of children, and working to find them new
>Greene is a fine writer, a two-time National Book Award nominee,
>and There is No Me Without You is the happy occasion of wonderful
>and weighty material meeting a gifted narrator.
>Haregowin's story is woven in with straight reportage on the devastation
>wrought on African children by the AIDS crisis. The latter is
>hard to digest. It is also controversial, and not all readers
>will accept all aspects of Greene's analysis of the AIDS crisis.
>But for most readers, the power of the story of Haregowin and
>the children in her care will prove transcendent, turning this
>book into a gripping and heartfelt read.
>Haregowin is no saint. Greene (who first met Haregowin as a prospective
>adoptive mother herself and has since adopted two Ethiopian children)
>makes it clear that sometimes she has trouble liking her. Yet
>her descriptions are gentle and humorous. Greene says of the tiny
>woman: "She had the knack of making it seem that everything happening
>at her altitude was normal, while, at my height, the goings-on
>were rather outlandish."
>The course of Haregowin's career is not a smooth one. She becomes
>an internationally acclaimed philanthropist -- and then almost
>loses it all as she becomes widely discredited and goes to jail
>under suspicion of child trafficking.
>Greene very effectively portrays a woman whose character blends
>great generosity with unthinking arrogance, an ordinary woman
>pushed into heroism by the demands of her time and situation.
>The book also offers heartwrenching portraits of innocent young
>lives in wretched distress. The description of small children
>wailing hopelessly for their missing parents (and this is something
>Haregowin faced daily) is beyond devastating. But there is a rich
>reward for readers -- and Haregowin -- as a few of the cases that
>seem most hopeless meet with breathtakingly happy endings.
>For anyone concerned about children's issues, anyone who has ever
>considered international adoption, or those of us who simply like
>to believe that one individual can shine a healing light in the
>dark, this is a story not to be missed.
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