BookBrowse Reviews Love in the Driest Season by Neely Tucker

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Love in the Driest Season

A Family Memoir

by Neely Tucker

Love in the Driest Season by Neely Tucker
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  • First Published:
    Feb 2004, 256 pages
    Paperback:
    Apr 2005, 288 pages

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BookBrowse's 2005 Favorite Debut - As Voted by You!

From the book jacket: 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. After a near-death hospital stay 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 post-genocidal conflict in Rwanda. At home in Harare, Vita was nursing Chipo back to health. Soon she and Tucker decided to alter their lives forever—they would adopt Chipo. That decision challenged an unspoken social norm—that foreigners should never adopt Zimbabwean children.

As if their situation wasn’t tenuous enough, Zimbabwe President Robert Mugabe was stirring up national fervor against foreigners - for Tucker, the only full-time American correspondent in Zimbabwe, the declaration was a direct threat to his life and his wife's safety, and an ultimatum to their decision to adopt the child who had already become their only daughter.

Comment: I don't have the words to do this book justice but fortunately for you and me, others have:

'This is a gorgeous mix of family memoir and reportage that traverses the big issues of politics, racism and war.'
-- Publishers Weekly

'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.'  -- Library Journal.

It seems that many of you already agree that this is an exceptional book - although I will not be officially announcing the winners of the 2004 BookBrowse Awards (which 950 of you voted for) for a couple more weeks, I can tell you that 'Love In The Driest Season' won your vote as the most popular debut of 2004!

Lastly, a brief update from the Tucker family.  Neely tells me Vita is still doing development work in East Africa, he works for the Style section of the Washington Post, and Chipo is 'a high-spirited first grader who is perfectly happy, healthy and doing great in school!'

This review is from the April 6, 2005 issue of BookBrowse Recommends. Click here to go to this issue.



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