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Book Review: There Is No Me Without You: One Woman's Odyssey to Rescue Africa's Children

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  • Rand Wise
    Message 1 of 1 , Sep 25, 2006
      >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
      >extended family.
      >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.
      >Read the review online at:
      >Hardcover (Sale) starting at $18.16 (List price $25.95)
      >Compact Disc (New) $39.95
      >*Please note that copies are limited to on-hand quantity; used copies, in particular, may be available in extremely limited supply.
      >Visit Christian Science Monitor at:
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