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Held at a Distance: My Rediscovery of Ethiopia
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Held at a Distance: My Rediscovery of Ethiopia

3.33 of 5 stars 3.33  ·  rating details  ·  67 ratings  ·  12 reviews
This powerful book gives readers a chance to experience Ethiopia through the personal experience of a writer who is both Ethiopian and American. It takes readers beyond headlines and stereotypes to a deeper understanding of the country. This is an absorbing account of the author’s return trip to Ethiopia as an adult, having left the country in exile with her family at age ...more
Paperback, 195 pages
Published May 1st 2007 by Chicago Review Press
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This book is marketed more as a memoir, but it's probably better described as a travelogue with bits of memoir interspersed throughout. In general, the memoir bits are more interesting than the travelogue aspect, though the travelogue has its moments as well. To the author's credit, I felt that she was genuine and frank, which is not always easy when writing a memoir that will be not be published posthumously! In several places, she is openly critical of the Ethiopian Orthodox Church as a sexist ...more
The most fascinating portion of this book for me was Haile's epilogue, a thoughtful chapter where she examines the multiple claims upon her identity by different languages, religions, societies, and continents. Born in Ethiopia, she left the country with her family in 1976, two years after the coup, and grew up in Minnesota, where her father worked at St John's college (which I have been to, and which is beautiful, and which has a working monastery on the grounds, and which is officially a tiny ...more
This was a nice introduction to culture and recent/ancient history of Ethiopia, seen through the very personal lens of an Ethiopian emigrant. Haile writes clearly and at all times, this is her story and her relationship with her country of origin. Her journey to Ethiopia as an adult causes her to reassess her self-definition as an Ethiopian (considering how American her viewpoints are) and her relationship to a country that her family fled from in fear of their lives in the 70's. Through that ex ...more
this book is a memoir, travelogue and historical account all rolled into one. i appreciated all the ethiopian history in this, and haile's account made the revolution real to me. everything is related through haile's personal experience of having to leave the country as a child because her father was a target of the military gov't after emperor selassie was overthrown in 1974. she makes her first trip back as a 36 year old woman and experiences ethiopia as the home that was stolen from her and e ...more
David Ratner
a good, personal and touching narrative. gives you some food for thought about contemporary Ethiopia. Not a masterpiece, but definately a good read.
I would not have come across this book if I didn't have an interest in Ethiopia , but I'm so glad I did. In some ways the Ethiopia story mirrors other African Countries. But in many ways it is very different, with its own culture, history and mythology. Rebecca Haile shares her own story, having left at 10 years old after the persecution of her father, and returning 25 years later. She gives a thoughtful perspective on what it means to be Ethiopian. She digs into the stories, the people, the rel ...more
Catherine S
This book resonated with me. Like the author, I spent my childhood in Ethiopia. I appreciated the author's efforts to reconcile her childhood memories with adult knowledge and experience. This is neither a memoir nor a travelogue. It is a personal account of an emotional journey taken to join past and present. I found it fascinating and meaningful.
I really loved this woman's honest thoughts on what it means to be Ethiopian. As an adoptive Mom of Ethiopian children it gave me some perspective on how to approach keeping my children's culture. It is not a struggle that only adopted children have, but anyone who has left their homeland for any reason. Very well written.
I wanted very much to like this story. The facts are clear, the settings are easy to see, but the heart of her story is missing. If you are looking for a distant, scholarly examination of the return to a homeland, this is it.
Anahid Oshagan
Aug 31, 2007 Anahid Oshagan rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: all
Part travelogue, part history, part memoir, part autobiography; this book blends all this into an easy and educational read about Ethiopia and identity. Enjoyed it immensely and recommend it for all.
Nov 23, 2010 Hannah added it
Shelves: adoption
story of a woman who was born in Ethiopia and then grew up in the USA returning to Ethiopia for a month long trip. Nice blend of some history/culture in more of a story format
This book provided a useful overview of history prior to my trip to Ethiopia to adopt my daughter. It is insightful and well written.
Jessica Lawrence
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