In this poignant, lyric memoir, a sister’s tragic death prompts a woman’s unbidden journey into her turbulent African past
A comfortable suburban housewife with three children living in Connecticut, Wendy Kann thought she had put her volatile childhood in colonial Rhodesia–now Zimbabwe–behind her. Then one Sunday morning came a terrible phone call: her youngest sister, Lauren, had been killed on a lonely road in Zambia. Suddenly unable to ignore her longing for her homeland, she decides she must confront the ghosts of her past.
Wendy Kann’s is a personal journey, set against a backdrop as exotic as it is desolate. From a privileged colonial childhood of mansions and servants, her story moves to a young adulthood marked by her father’s death, her mother’s insanity, and the viciousness of a bloody civil war. Through unlikely love she finds herself in the incongruous sophistication of Manhattan; three children bring the security of suburban America, until the heartbreaking vulnerability of the small child her sister left behind in Africa compels her to return to a continent she hardly recognizes.
With honesty and compassion, Kann pieces together her sister’s life, explores the heartbreak of loss and belonging, and finally discovers the true meaning of home.
I really struggled with this book. I enjoyed the first part and then the last two parts, but the middle just didn’t hold my interest. I actually stopped reading this book for about a month, and then I had to force myself to read the second half just to get it done.
Wendy Kann is remembering her sister Lauren after her tragic death in a car accident. The book begins with the story of Wendy, Sharon, and Lauren shortly before and after Lauren’s death. Then it jumps back to their childhood and follows Wendy as she grows up, moves away, gets married, has kids, etc. The last part picks up where the first part left off with Sharon and Wendy trying to make sure Lauren’s son, Luke, is cared for after her death.
I wanted to like this story. I really did. And I enjoyed some of the sister relationship parts, and the history of Rhodesia/Zimbabwe was fairly interesting. But while reading this book, I was reminded why I don’t really like memoirs. They’re a string of random memories and not really a continuous story, and, unfortunately I found that during a lot of the book, I just didn’t care.
My Ratings: 2 Stars
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