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

4.05  ·  Rating Details ·  2,321 Ratings  ·  438 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
ebook, 368 pages
Published January 1st 2013 by Viking Books
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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
Feb 26, 2013 Jill rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
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
Apr 26, 2013 Lulu rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Irene Mcintyre
Sep 06, 2016 Irene Mcintyre rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: africa
2 and 1/2 stars if I could. Will write more later.
Mar 20, 2013 Marsha rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Dec 01, 2015 Suzanne rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Friederike Knabe
Mar 18, 2013 Friederike Knabe rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: africa
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.
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 ~
Feb 02, 2013 Amy rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
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.
Mar 26, 2016 Cindy rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
What a beautiful and well written book but oh so sad and heart wrenching. It made me angry then hopeful and eventually in tears. I highly recommend this brutal yet tender novel.
Apr 25, 2014 Jan rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Mar 18, 2013 Sally rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction
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
Jan 19, 2013 Guylou rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: first-reads
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
Jan 21, 2013 Alice Heiserman rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Jan 24, 2016 Gail rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I loved this book, which tells about apartheid in South Africa in a personal, lyrical way. I loved that the author, a white woman who spent time in Africa (and now lives in Maine), was able to tell the story from the points of view of two characters -- a white American woman and a black South African man. Both seemed true.
Chris Witkowski
Jun 13, 2014 Chris Witkowski rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Stephanie Anze
Apr 24, 2016 Stephanie Anze rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
After watching his friend's murder by the white South African Defense Force, Isaac, a (black) young medical student, fears for his safety and flees. Smuggled under a hearse into Botswana, a land radically different than his own, Isaac seeks refuge. Upon his arrival, he is welcomed by White Dog, who proceeds to follow Isaac everywhere. A chance encounter with Amen, an old school friend provides Isaac with shelter and getting a job as a gardener with Alice, an (white) American expat, provides inco ...more
Mary Anne
Oct 14, 2015 Mary Anne rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is a gripping story that is a finalist for the 2015 Read Across Rhode Island selection. It takes place during the terrible period of apartheid in South Africa in 1976. Isaac Muthethe is smuggled across the border to Botswana in the bottom of a hearse, after witnessing a friend murdered by white members of the South African Defense Force. Near the border in Botswana he runs into an old acquaintance, Amen, who invites Isaac to stay in his home with his wife and baby. Unfortunately, Amen is a ...more
Mark Landmann
Aug 11, 2014 Mark Landmann rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction
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
Nov 23, 2014 Sonya rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
To date this is one of the most beautifully written books I have ever read. Yes, I think that it could have been better. I understand that by having the husband in the beginning of the book the author is giving us reasons for why Alice feels and responds to men the way she does, but I think it would have been better if the book started after her divorce because he isn't present enough for us, the reader, to develop any sort of emotional connection; good or bad. The issue is that this lack of con ...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
Dec 18, 2013 Sue rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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 Welty Welty
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
Oct 14, 2013 Crizzle rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: adult-fiction
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
Mar 14, 2013 Chris rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction
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
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“It's a fearful thing to love what death can touch.” 6 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.” 4 likes
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