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White Dog Fell from the Sky
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White Dog Fell from the Sky

4.08 of 5 stars 4.08  ·  rating details  ·  1,524 ratings  ·  320 reviews
An extraordinary novel of love, friendship, and betrayal for admirers of Abraham Verghese and Edwidge Danticat

Eleanor Morse’s rich and intimate portrait of Botswana, and of three people whose intertwined lives are at once tragic and remarkable, is an absorbing and deeply moving story.

In apartheid South Africa in 1976, medical student Isaac Muthethe is forced to flee his
Hardcover, 368 pages
Published January 3rd 2013 by Viking Adult
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Jeanette  "Astute Crabbist"
No spoilers here, folks. I'll leave that to the blurters among us.

In the late 1970s, two African countries that share a border had radically different racial policies. The South African government was still allowing unspeakable atrocities in the name of apartheid. In contrast, Botswana had a black president married to a white woman, and its people were seeking racial harmony.

This cross-border contrast is central to the story, but it's only one of the themes Eleanor Morse covers in this strongl
Every now and then, someone asks me, “Why do I read?” My answer is because of books like this – a book that embraces me in its world, shattering my heart and then restoring it again.

The first character we meet is Isaac Muthethe, a young medical student who was forced to flee South Africa for Botswana after witnessing his friend’s death by the white South African Defense Force. Upon arriving there, he is quickly “adopted” by a skinny white dog. Fate brings him – and the dog -- to the home of Alic
White Dog Fell from the Sky is as beautiful and profound a novel about love as any I have read. With grace and power it presents all the forms of love the heart is capable of holding: love born of compassion and of passion, love of family and of country, the blinding, feral love for one’s children, for any child, the helpless love for suffering animals, the love of justice that compels us to act, despite our fear.

The story unfolds in Botswana in the mid-1970’s. Across the border in South Africa
So promising, so disappointing. White Dog Fell from the Sky is a story about a young black South African medical student named Isaac who, after fleeing from apartheid South Africa to Gaborone, Botswana, befriends a white woman named Alice who hires him to be her gardener. I’m giving the book two stars instead of one because reading the book was somewhat of a cinematic experience; I found it absorbing and vivid. Sadly, the book amounts to little more than a trite meditation on unlikely friendship ...more
If I could, I'd give this book six stars. Or seven. To set it apart from all the others. Personally, this book had all the elements I look for in a good read. It was well written and utterly lyrical in places, it had a bit of history, a bit of romance, a bit of mischief making, and it had an important story to tell; both about racism, and about preservation of culture and wildlife. I loved the characters, I laughed, I cried, I was scared and anxious, I was heartbroken, I was relieved. I felt the ...more
Diane S.
3.5 Issac, a young black man flees for his life from apartheid South Africa, after witnessing a friends' murder. He seeks shelter in Botswana. and takes a position as far from his previous educated one of a medical student and meets a white woman who works for the land development branch of the government. This books is extremely well written, alternately beautiful when describing the country and horrible, when describing more inhuman acts that man continually perpetuates on others. The dog of t ...more
White Dog Fell From the Sky
By Eleanor Morse
5 stars
pp. 354

You can blow out a candle
But you can't blow out a fire
Once the flames begin to catch
The wind will blow it higher
Oh Biko, Biko,
because Biko Yihla Moja,
Yihla Moja -
The man is dead

And the eyes of the world are
watching now
watching now


Morning Star shone brightly between night and day, brighter than before because he knew he had to stay vigilant against the forces of darkness in the universe. ~ Eleanor Morse ~
This is one of the most beautiful books I have ever read! It is an incredible story about love, respect, integrity, loyalty and hope. It takes place in the late 1970's in the country of Botswana during the Apartheid period. One of the main characters, Alice, is a white American woman who came to Botswana with her husband. Her counterpart, Isaac, is a highly intelligent, black man who escaped from the horrors and atrocities of racial prejudice in South Africa. An amazing white dog "adopted" Isaac ...more
White Dog Fell from the Sky is not an apt title for Morse's heart felt novel about Alice, a white American living in Botswana and Isaac, a South African who has arrived in Botswana in a hearse. underneath a coffin.

Isaac, a medical student, forced to flee Johannesburg , finds employment as a gardener just as Alice's marriage is ending. This is a love story, but no, not between Isaac and Alice.

Alice has left Cincinnati and married her boy friend who had moved to Botswana . Though the novel fills i
Feb 02, 2013 Amy rated it 3 of 5 stars
Shelves: africa
Bad things happening to good people. Good writing, compelling story. But sad. You have to be in the mood for sad--love found and lost, political repression, torture.This is not Alexander McCall Smith's Botswana. It reminded me more of the writing from Latin America in the 1970s, 1980s.

Interesting metaphor/symbolism in the veterinary fences across Botswana--senseless suffering. Simple goals, politically, crashing into a murderous force.
Friederike Knabe
It is rare that I read a book over a couple of days (besides having a busy travel weekend). This novel is impossible to put down or to let the story of the main characters slip from your mind. Review to follow shortly.
Isaac Muthethe is one of the most memorable characters I’ve met in recent novels. An escapee from South Africa into neighboring and more liberal Botswana in the mid-1970s, he brings with him hope for a life free of fear, a wisdom earned in the harsh realities of apartheid, a willingness to work hard, and the wish to avoid political conflict. He also desperately wants to save the family members he had to leave behind.

When he is dumped from the vehicle carrying him across the border, a stray whit
This is the story of two people in 1970s Botswana, a young man named Isaac and a woman named Alice. Isaac is black, forced to flee his native South Africa for fear of his life. Alice is white, in an unhappy marriage and trying to find meaning in life. Isaac comes to work for her as a gardener. For the first part of the book, I felt disconnected from the characters, unable to identify with their pain, especially Alice. She seemed too passive and self-absorbed, waiting for something to happen but ...more
Bonnie Brody
White Dog Fell From the Sky is bound to be one of the ten best books I've read this year. It is an ode to love, tenacity, and an homage to the indigenous people of Botswana.

The novel has two story lines, both taking place in 1976. The first is that of Isaac Muthethe, a young South African man who is in his first year of medical school when his good friend, an apartheid activist, is killed by the South African police. Isaac witnesses this and knows that his own life is in danger and so he escapes
One sentence from the book says it all: "It's a fearful thing to love what death can touch." This book is like a lover's kiss which leaves you breathless. I could not put it down. It was like it was the only thing that could quench my thirst. I had to know what the next chapter would bring.

I knew at a high level what happened in South Africa during the Apartheid, but that's only the tip of the iceberg. This book has shared with me the humanity of this period. It helped me realise the fear, the
Alice  Heiserman
What made this a five-star-book was the unique setting: Botswana, the unique characters of Alice Mendleson and Isaac and the many supporting characters who advance the plot, and the beautfy of the writing including the symbolism of the white dog and the garden. Here is a sample of the style:
"She left on a Saturday. That night, White Dog slept just outside the kitchen door For the first time in Isaac's life there was no other breath signing near him at night. So much stillness, it felt like the
I was pleased to receive this as a Goodreads Giveaway. When it arrived, I opened it to read the first couple of paragraphs, with the intention of reading it when I finished the book I had on the go. It grabbed me immediately, and I spent the next two days reading it every chance I got, until I finished it.

It was a very satisfying read, from beginning to end. It is well-written, with interesting characters and wonderful descriptions of Botswana. The author did a great job of weaving in political,
Sue Davis
"The bitter heart eats its owner."
This is an extraordinary plot-driven novel. The story is captivating and extremely moving. The overarching theme seems to be that there is a powerful resilience in all of us even in the face of the most extreme and horrible adversity--torture at the hands of vile, sadistic, white South Africans in the 1970s, in the case of Isaac. Also, the power of love and passion as well as friendship. The characters are people I want to make friends with and I feel the same
Chris Witkowski
This is a beautiful, heartbreaking, book, set in Botswana in the mid 1970s, that tells the story of Issac, Alice and Ian, three people living vastly different lives, each of whom finds a way to overcome the tremendous obstacles that come their way. If I had to pick one word to sum up the quality that each of them possesses it would be courage. For Ian it is the courage of his convictions that leads him to fight the policies of the government-backed plan to prevent the spread of disease among liv ...more
Mark Landmann
There were some lovely and interesting parts of this book, mainly in the descriptions of the landscape, culture and politics of newly independent Botswana. I also enjoyed the ending very much. But it's not a book I'd recommend. I'm glad to be done with it and did think about giving up on it a third of the way through. I find it so hard to do. Though the characters were mostly well-drawn, complex and believable, somehow I never believed in the relationships between them. Often I didn't find the d ...more
I give this 5 stars, despite the narrator who isn't nearly good enough--multiple mispronunciations, bad accents. She has a lovely voice and her African accents, for black and white characters, sound authentic, but the mistakes took me out of the story. That said, this is a powerful story filled with richly realized characters and provocative social issues that reflect both Apartheid and ecological problems. The language is, as Publisher's Weekly writes, "brutal and beautiful." There's a cadence ...more
It is 1976 and Isaac Muthethe, a black South African, witnesses the death of another man at the hands of white men. It is no longer safe for Isaac to remain in South Africa. He finds a way to be smuggled across the border into Botswana. The first thing he sees in Botswana is a white dog which is sitting beside him. It follows him as he makes his way to town. A few days later, he finds work as a gardener for Alice Mendelssohn, an American working in Botswana. When Alice has to go away on a busin ...more
Rita Bourke
Isaac Muthethe, a young medical student from South Africa, witnesses the brutal murder of a friend by the South African Defense Force. Fearing for his own life under the apartheid regime of the mid-1970s, he flees his homeland, leaving behind his family and his dreams of a career.

Dumped from a hearse into a dusty field just inside the border of Botswanna, Isaac awakens to find a white dog sitting next to him. The dog becomes his faithful companion, following him into the city of Gabarone, to the
That's it. I'm going back to Young Adult fiction. First of all, the entire time I was trying to read this, I'd get phone calls/texts from Justiney about HARRY POTTER; I'd get wrapped up in some amazing Hogwartsy discussion with her... and then I'd have to come back to this depressing, at times gross and at times boring book. There was one time in which I got very excited, "he was walking to the Ministry of"... MAGIC?!?!?! IS HE A WIZARD?!!? "...Local Goverment and Lands" or something extremely b ...more
This was slow going initially, more like 2.5 stars as I slowly began to like it more. Took over 100 pages before it got to the point to sustain my interest in how the author was going to shape the characters. I wasn't sure who the main character was in this book and where it was headed. We have the black South African, Isaac, who has fled to Botswana and the white American, Alice. Isaac gets a job as a gardener for Alice. We see their lives separately and together. Then there is the white dog wh ...more
An interesting and heartbreaking story that interweaves the lives of Isaac, a young black medical student from South Africa and Alice, an American ex-pat living in Botswana. Apartheid is the law of the land, and in fear for his life, Isaac escapes to Botswana to try and build a safer life for himself and hopefully his family in the future. Befriended by the white dog and employed by Alice as a gardener, Isaac can't escape the political upheaval that forced him to run away. Alice's story centers ...more
Gary Smith
A wonderful read. It brought forth laughter, tears, joy, sorrow...the full range of emotions. I liked the raw human nature expressed throughout the book; both the cruel and beautiful aspects of humanity were well crafted as well as realistic. The lines between humans and animals blurred which I had a great appreciation for, nothing was put above anything else and the message throughout seemed to be that we are tiny spots in a vast universe...not an all-important individual force. The characters ...more
Ilyhana Kennedy
This is a big story, bigger than these pages can comfortably hold. Nevertheless the author covers a lot of ground and the story flows within a well established context. The narrative is honest, direct, sometimes raw, often truly insightful.
The story is set in the era of apartheid in South Africa. From the book's cover blurbs and from the story opening, I expected the story to be Isaac's, a black man smuggled out of South Africa into Botswana.
I think it is unfortunate though perhaps indicative of
Sara Strand
First of all, the story taking place in South Africa was really interesting because I hadn't actually read anything in that setting. Which I always like right away because obviously having never been there myself, I really rely on the author to give me a setting- describe to me what I should be seeing in my mind and Eleanor Morse does a fantastic job of this without giving you too much. The story of Isaac, who sees his friend murdered, is pretty amazing. I mean, I don't know what Africa was like ...more
This book is a perfect example of the value of reading recommendations from friends. Based on the title, I would have assumed this was a fable, and I probably wouldn't have looked at it twice. But a friend whose reading taste I trust shared it with me, and I'm so glad. I loved this book. I was very caught up in the story of Isaac and his younger siblings, and their impact on the life of Alice, an unhappy American woman living in Botswana. For me, the story is about the different ways our lives w ...more
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“It's a fearful thing to love what death can touch.” 1 likes
“We are doorways, openings into something greater than ourselves, something that we don't understand and will never understand. We have nothing precious in and of ourselves. We are only precious in that we are part of something that is too big to know.” 1 likes
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