I received this book for free from a blog tour in exchange for my honest opinions/ review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.
This post contains affiliate links you can use to purchase the book. If you buy the book using that link, I will receive a small commission from the sale.In the Belly of the Elephant by Susan Corbett
Published by self on 2012
Genres: memoir, nonfiction
Source: a blog tour
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One day, Unanana Bosele went looking for her children and was swallowed by an elephant with one tusk.
Journey into the Belly of the Elephant and step into the flip flops of a young, idealistic aid worker living in Africa. Run away from home and discover a place where coup attempts are as common as malnutrition and meningitis, and where America is seen through very different eyes.
Spend a day in Liberia and meet Death for the first time. Work on development projects in Burkina Faso and feel the soft cushion of Sahara sand beneath your feet. Sweat in the 120-degree heat and see the ghosts of rhinos and elephants that once roamed the Sahel. Meet Adiza, who teaches you the proper art of laughter, and Hamidou, who tells you Fulani myths about Gueno the sun god, and why the old marabou sits in the same place year after year. Meet Djelal, who doesn’t trust you because you are white. Eat rice and soup with your cook, Laya, and her children and learn why, after opening a bottle of soda, you always leave the cap on. Sit in Laya’s courtyard, meet her husband and his second wife, and tell her about your Mormon great grandfather who also had two wives. Taste the grit of a sand storm and smell the glory of the first rain after a long dry season.
Dabble in love with Drabo, a local army captain who teaches you about living with death and wonders why you haven’t followed your father’s advice. Fall in love with Jack, a fellow American who reminds you of Rhett Butler and helps heal your broken heart. Explore Islam. Journey with Mohammed through the seven levels of heaven and discover why Muslims pray five times a day. Learn the wickedness of greed, selfishness, and pride, and the goodness of patience, generosity, and love through the many animals and characters of African myth.
I love reading memoirs like this, because you get to live a life that you otherwise would never be able to. Whether you’re reading about Boston in the 60’s and 70’s, living in war-torn Germany in the 40’s, or Africa as a missionary, it’s always just so fascinating to me. To live so humbly, where an American $1 can feed a family of 6 for a month, is just amazing.
(as always with memoirs, sometimes I have a hard time distinguishing from reviewing the author’s life, to reviewing the actual book)
These are the adventures of Susan, from her love life, to trying to save children and somedays just trying to survive, from her parents who didn’t understand her and what she was trying to accomplish, to her coworkers who could be so angry at the world.
There are some parts of the book that dragged a bit, and there were other scenes where I wish I had MORE – more detail, more stories, just MORE – but all in all, this was just such a great memoir that definitely made me laugh and cry (one of the very first scenes in the book, that just hooked you in).
Reading this book contributed to these challenges: