Excerpt from There Is No Me Without You by Melissa Fay Greene, plus links to reviews, author biography & more

Summary |  Excerpt |  Reading Guide |  Reviews |  Beyond the Book |  Readalikes |  Genres & Themes |  Author Bio

There Is No Me Without You

One Woman's Odyssey to Rescue Her Country's Children

by Melissa Fay Greene

There Is No Me Without You by Melissa Fay Greene X
There Is No Me Without You by Melissa Fay Greene
  • Critics' Opinion:

    Readers' Opinion:

  • First Published:
    Sep 2006, 352 pages

    Paperback:
    Sep 2007, 496 pages

    Genres

  • Rate this book


Book Reviewed by:
BookBrowse Review Team
Buy This Book

About this Book

Print Excerpt


“The child is so smiling face,” Gerrida turned to assure me in English. “He is wonderful.”

I wondered briefly why Gerrida didn’t take in the little boy. But if he was indeed an orphan of the unspeakable disease, then she could not. The stigma of the plague crawled across its orphans, widows, and widowers, as if they, too, seethed with germs.

We wove through traffic and dashed across intersections without traffic lights, while packed vans, buses, and taxis raced, lurched, stalled out, crunched, and were pushed out of the way by crowds of onlookers hoping for tips. A line of donkeys laden with leafy branches skittered through the traffic; on the median strip, a solitary hump-necked cow grazed tranquilly, as if she stood knee-deep in a meadow and had nothing more to ponder than the clouds.

On her first trip to Addis Ababa, my twenty-four-year-old daughter, Molly Samuel, would say, “If I ever saw this many people in the streets of an American city, I’d think they were fleeing a disaster.” The rain had stopped, followed by cool, cloudy sunlight. A man ran down the sidewalk holding up the hind legs of his goat, the animal pedaling as fast as it could on two skinny front legs with its rump in midair, the overall effect like a wheelbarrow. Wizened, kerchiefed, little ladies, bent double at the waist, struggled down the shoulders of the road under impossibly tall loads of firewood. Women in hijabs (Islamic head scarves) flowed down the crowded sidewalks, while other women veered around them, wearing heels and stylish pantsuits. Men of all ages walked the streets hand in hand, in heterosexual friendship; policemen, with rifles across their backs, stood at their posts holding hands. Young soccer players in glossy uniforms shouted to each other above the crowd; then a robed and white-bearded man cleared the way with his knotty walking stick, looking as if he had just arrived out of the biblical desert.

Older Ethiopian Orthodox women in long, white robes and shawls paraded under parasols quilted of shiny red, green, and purple fabrics, threaded with metallic gold, sprinkled with tiny gold ornaments, and swinging with red or gold fringes. Religious women will lift their parasols in a display of gratitude to God for answered prayers. Market stalls offered quivers full of the bright umbrellas, the sunlight dashing off them as if off broken glass.

“Why all the parasols?” I asked Selamneh on my first trip to Ethiopia, in 2001.

“They are ...,” he began. “Are they not ... the umbrellas from the Bible?”

“The umbrellas? From the Bible?”

“Yes.”

“What umbrellas from the Bible?”

“I don’t know.”

That night, from an Internet café, I e-mailed my family in America the question “Were there umbrellas in the Bible?”

The next day, my seventeen-year-old son, Seth Samuel, e-mailed back, “Well, Mom, it did rain for forty days and forty nights.”

But a few days later, Selamneh remembered, “When King Solomon brought the Holy Tabernacle into Jerusalem, people sheltered it with umbrellas.”

“Oh,” I said. And why do middle-aged women in long, white robes—picking their way along the muddy shoulders of roads packed with traffic, cattle, and humanity—lift and twirl parasols in the air, fluttering in the wind like kites, other than for the pageantry? On the Orthodox holiday of Timket, the festival of Epiphany, why are umbrellas held aloft by the clergy while a Tabot, a replica of the Holy Tabernacle, is reverently displayed? Because Ethiopia was the biblical Abyssinia, the kingdom of the Queen of Sheba, who journeyed to Jerusalem (according to holy writ and legend) when the Tabernacle was young.

Standing like a mountain fortress above the Horn of Africa, near the confluence of the Red Sea, the Arabian Sea, and the Indian Ocean, ancient Ethiopia defied foreign conquerors for millennia and traded in slaves, gold, ivory, spices, gems, textiles, and animals with ancient Egypt, Persia, Arabia, the Roman Empire, and India. Five-thousand-year-old Egyptian hieroglyphs mention the preference of the pharaohs for myrrh from Ethiopia. For centuries, Axum, the highland Ethiopian kingdom of the Amhara people, was the dominant Red Sea power, builder of castles and massive stone monoliths, minter of gold, silver, and copper coins. Third-century CE Persian writings named the world’s four great kingdoms as Rome, China, Persia, and Axum.

Excerpted from There Is No Me Without You, (c) 2006 Melissa Fay Greene. Reproduced with permission of the publisher, Bloomsbury USA/Walker & Co. All rights reserved.

Membership Advantages
  • Reviews
  • "Beyond the Book" articles
  • Free books to read and review (US only)
  • Find books by time period, setting & theme
  • Read-alike suggestions by book and author
  • Book club discussions
  • and much more!
  • Just $45 for 12 months or $15 for 3 months.
  • More about membership!

Beyond the Book:
  A Short History of Ethiopia

Become a Member

Join BookBrowse today to start discovering exceptional books!

Find out more


Top Picks

  • Book Jacket: Bad Cree
    Bad Cree
    by Jessica Johns
    Jessica Johns' debut novel Bad Cree was inspired by her desire to disprove the idea, suggested by an...
  • Book Jacket: The Terraformers
    The Terraformers
    by Annalee Newitz
    Sask-E is a planet that Verdance, a major terraforming company, has big plans for. Their business is...
  • Book Jacket: The Light Pirate
    The Light Pirate
    by Lily Brooks-Dalton
    The lynchpin of The Light Pirate by Lily Brooks-Dalton, a novel split into four parts, is the main ...
  • Book Jacket: The World Keeps Ending, and the World Goes On
    The World Keeps Ending, and the World Goes On
    by Franny Choi
    Calamity can cohabit with joy, and you and I have, on some plane, accepted that absurd reality. We ...

Book Club Discussion

Book Jacket
The Love of My Life
by Rosie Walsh
An up-all-night love story wrapped in a mystery from the New York Times bestselling author of Ghosted.

Members Recommend

  • Book Jacket

    The Critic's Daughter
    by Priscilla Gilman

    An exquisitely rendered portrait of a unique father-daughter relationship and a moving memoir of family and identity.

  • Book Jacket

    River Sing Me Home
    by Eleanor Shearer

    A remarkable debut about a mother's gripping journey across the Caribbean to find her stolen children in the aftermath of slavery.

Book Club Giveaway!
Win French Braid

French Braid
by Anne Tyler

From the beloved Pulitzer Prize–winning author, a joyful journey deep into one Baltimore family's foibles.

Enter

Wordplay

Solve this clue:

It's A G T Me

and be entered to win..

Your guide toexceptional          books

BookBrowse seeks out and recommends the best in contemporary fiction and nonfiction—books that not only engage and entertain but also deepen our understanding of ourselves and the world around us.