Winner of the 2005 BookBrowse Sapphire Award for Most Popular Debut
Foreign correspondent Neely Tucker and his wife, Vita, arrived in Zimbabwe in 1997. After witnessing firsthand the devastating consequences of AIDS on the population, especially the children, the couple started volunteering at an orphanage that was desperately underfunded and short-staffed. One afternoon, a critically ill infant was brought to the orphanage from a village outside the city. Shed been left to die in a field on the day she was born, abandoned in the tall brown grass that covers the highlands of Zimbabwe in the dry season. After a near-death hospital stay, and under strict doctors orders, the ailing child was entrusted to the care of Tucker and Vita. Within weeks Chipo, the girl-child whose name means gift, would come to mean everything to them.
Still an active correspondent, Tucker crisscrossed the continent, filing stories about the uprisings in the Congo, the civil war in Sierra Leone, and the postgenocidal conflict in Rwanda. He witnessed heartbreaking scenes of devastation and violence, steeling him further to take a personal role in helping anywhere he could. At home in Harare, Vita was nursing Chipo back to health. Soon she and Tucker decided to alter their lives foreverthey would adopt Chipo. That decision challenged an unspoken social normthat foreigners should never adopt Zimbabwean children.
Raised in rural Mississippi in the sixties and seventies, Tucker was familiar with the mores associated with and dictated by race. His wife, a savvy black woman whose father escaped the Jim Crow South for a new life in the industrial North, would not be deterred in her resolve to welcome Chipo into their loving family.
As if their situation wasnt tenuous enough, Zimbabwe President Robert Mugabe was stirring up national fervor against foreigners, especially journalists, abroad and at home. At its peak, his antagonizing branded all foreign journalists personae non grata. For Tucker, the only full-time American correspondent in Zimbabwe, the declaration was a direct threat to his life and his wifes safety, and an ultimatum to their decision to adopt the child who had already become their only daughter.
Against a background of war, terrorism, disease, and unbearable uncertainty about the future, Chipos story emerges as an inspiring testament to the miracles that loveand dogged determinationcan sometimes achieve. Gripping, heartbreaking, and triumphant, this family memoir will resonate throughout the ages.
Love in The Driest Season won the 2005 BookBrowse Sapphire Award for Most Popular Debut. As such, BookBrowse, and the more than 1000 BookBrowse members who rated books as part of the 2005 Awards, recommend it highly! (Reviewed by BookBrowse Review Team).
The Washington Post - Adam Fifield
Tucker's writing is taut and vivid as he narrates his and his wife's tumultuous quest to adopt Chipo … This book is billed as A Family Memoir, but it is a cross between a foreign correspondent's dispatches and a family tale. Nor is Love in the Driest Season etched with the literary filigree that marks other books in the genre. But that does not diminish its importance and certainly not its readability. Ultimately it is the story of the evolution of a mother and father, whose determination to save a doomed child makes that child theirs.
The resilient lilt to Tucker's writing allows him, and the reader, to negotiate even the direst moments without despondency.
This is a gorgeous mix of family memoir and reportage that traverses the big issues of politics, racism and war.
Library Journal - Janet Ingraham Dwyer
All this plus the impassioned story of a family facing recalcitrant bureaucracy and political pressure fill this brief book to bursting, but there are certainly no dull passages. Wholeheartedly recommended for public libraries.
Booklist - Kristine Huntley
Starred Review. Washington Post writer Tucker has written an affecting, powerful memoir of his struggles to adopt a baby girl in Zimbabwe......Tucker maintains a sense of immediacy throughout the book; the reader feels his frustration as he tries to track down various caseworkers, and his nervous energy as he and Vita receive the results of Chipo's HIV test. Utterly heartfelt and truly inspiring.
Recent Reader Reviews
Rated of 5
by AJ Beautiful I just finished this book and wonder where I was when it first came out. I want everyone I know to read it not only for the story, but the history of what has happened in this part of Africa.
It is beautiful, painfully human, the way the father... Read More
Rated of 5
by Veronica Great read This is a fantastic book! Not only does Tucker write about the grueling adoption process he and his wife endured, but he also informs the reader about the growing AIDS crisis, political corruption, war and poverty in sub-Saharan Africa. I highly... Read More
Rated of 5
by Jennifer Johnson
What a wonderful book. Tucker makes a wonderful memoir to hand down to his daughter some day. It's filled with such love that my eyes welled up many times.
Rated of 5
by Tommie W
I loved this book I read it twice and have hear there may be a movie I can wait
Zimbabwe (formerly known as Rhodesia) is a landlocked nation in the southern
part of Africa surrounded by the countries of Zambia, Botswana,
Mozambique and South Africa.
According to the
Factbook, its population is approximately 12 million. Per capita
income is $1,900 and the % of those with AIDS/HIV is 34%. The official
language is English with an adult literacy rate of 90%.
In 1965 the country declared its independence with the first free elections
held in 1979. Robert Mugabe (a committed Marxist) has
been the nations first and only ruler since then, surviving through a canny
combination of dirty politics and intimidation including a bit of ethnic
cleansing here and there.
Zimbabwe's citizens have become increasingly impatient with the 81 year old Mugabe and in
1998 this led to open hostility, riots and widespread seizures of
white-owned farmland that has led to desperate food shortages and an...
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