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
  • Critics' Opinion:

    Readers' Opinion:

  • First Published:
    Sep 2006, 352 pages
    Paperback:
    Sep 2007, 496 pages

  • Rate this book


Book Reviewed by:
BookBrowse Review Team

Buy This Book

About this Book

Print Excerpt


Gerrida spoke to a few passersby, and several pleasant soft-spoken guys, in jeans and T-shirts, jogged off; then they returned from around the corner with Mintesinot and his father.

How young and bewildered the father looked! He was thin, twenty-eight, with a light beard, wearing an oversize, beige, button-down shirt, maroon slacks, and a string necklace with a wooden crucifix. If he were the person in need of rescue, I wouldn’t have been surprised. Gerrida told us that the young man, Eskender (Ess-ken-der), had trained as a metalworker beside his father, but both his parents had died years ago. When he got obviously sick with AIDS, he lost his job and house. He and his young wife, Emebate, also an orphan, had made a life here, on a square of sidewalk. When it rained, they lay flat and pulled a length of plastic over themselves and their baby.

Eskender held the hand of a swaggering stocky little fellow, his son, the crown prince of the neighborhood. Mintesinot had a square, shiny dark-skinned face, long curls, and endearingly sticking-out ears. He skipped as if he owned the world. He did own this stretch of sidewalk, everybody knew him. The name Mintesinot meant “What could he not do?” When Minty needed a nap, he climbed over the humble barricade protecting his blankets—it was like a play fort built by young children—and passersby tried to be quieter, reminding one another, “Baby is sleeping.” When Haregewoin approached him, Mintesinot eyed her warily and drew closer to Eskender’s side.

I worried that our assignment was to seize the child from his father and make off with him. I felt afraid for the young man.

Gerrida unfolded a packet of official papers from her handbag and held them out to Eskender. The young father read the orders and gave a sad smile. He held out his son’s hand to Haregewoin.

“Na [come], Mintesinot,” she said gently, but the boy pulled back like a pony yanked by the lead rope. Haregewoin bent over to make small talk with him, but he disappeared behind his father.

Selamneh decided to try. He squatted down and said, “Mintesinot, would you like to ride in my taxi?”

The pair of bright black eyes reappeared from behind the father’s filthy shirttail.

“I will drive?” asked the boy in a clear, high voice.

Selamneh lost his balance in laughter. Sitting back on his heels again, Selamneh said, “Well, not this first time. Come on, I’ll take you; we’ll see if you like it.”

“Abate yimetal?” Will my dad come?

“Let’s go to the market and buy a package of biscuits for your dad, a present for your dad!” Selamneh invented on the spot. At this, smiling Mintesinot came out from behind his father, took Selamneh’s hand, and allowed himself to be led to the taxi and given a boost up into the backseat. He waved to a few sidewalk admirers from his high perch.

I hurried back through the crowd to the father. “Does he know where we’re going? Does he know where we’re taking Mintesinot?” My hands were shaking for it seemed that everything had speeded up, that the taxi was revving to depart, that blocked cars were honking in protest, that people were running; distressed, I rummaged wildly through my backpack for a pen and a piece of paper and fumbled them into the air. One of the nice young men in the crowd caught them and wrote down, for Eskender, Haregewoin’s phone number and address. The father thanked us with his infinitely sad smile and pushed the paper into his breast pocket.

Clearly this child was his whole life; he’d raised out of nothing, out of rags and refuse and handouts, a delightful and confident boy. But he knew this day must be coming. He grasped that people in good health had arrived to take away his son. He wearily lowered himself into his lonely knot of blankets. The whole neighborhood looked poorer as we departed with Mintesinot; the father had lost his only treasure, accepting, like a receipt, his son’s forwarding address.

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" backstories
  • 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 $10 for 3 months or $35 for a year
  • More about membership!

One-Month Free Membership

Discover your next great read here

Join Today!

Editor's Choice

  • Book Jacket: The Twelve Lives of Samuel Hawley
    The Twelve Lives of Samuel Hawley
    by Hannah Tinti
    Hannah Tinti follows her spectacular 2008 debut, The Good Thief, with a novel of uncommon ...
  • Book Jacket: Music of the Ghosts
    Music of the Ghosts
    by Vaddey Ratner
    Music of the Ghosts is about healing and forgiveness, but it is also about identity and the revival ...
  • Book Jacket: Castle of Water
    Castle of Water
    by Dane Huckelbridge
    When a whopping 24 out of 27 readers give a book 4 or 5 stars, you know you have a winner on your ...

Book Discussion
Book Jacket
The Nest
by Cynthia D'Aprix Sweeney

A funny and acutely perceptive debut about four siblings and the fate of their shared inheritance.

About the book
Join the discussion!

First Impressions

  • Book Jacket

    The Stars Are Fire
    by Anita Shreve

    An exquisitely suspenseful novel about an extraordinary young woman tested by a catastrophic event.
    Reader Reviews

  • Book Jacket

    Manderley Forever
    by Tatiana de Rosnay

    Bestselling author Tatiana de Rosnay pays homage to Daphne du Maurier.
    Reader Reviews

Who Said...

Everywhere I go, I am asked if I think the university stifles writers...

Click Here to find out who said this, as well as discovering other famous literary quotes!

Word Play

Solve this clue:

Y S M B, I'll S Y

and be entered to win..

Books that     
entertain,
     engage

 & enlighten

Visitors can view some of BookBrowse for free. Full access is for members only.

Join Today!

Your guide toexceptional          books

BookBrowse seeks out and recommends books that we believe to be best in class. Books that will whisk you to faraway places and times, that will expand your mind and challenge you -- the kinds of books you just can't wait to tell your friends about.

 
Modal popup -