First things first: this was instantly and easily one of the best books I've ever read.
Usually I read a book for entertainment, to pass the time, orFirst things first: this was instantly and easily one of the best books I've ever read.
Usually I read a book for entertainment, to pass the time, or even occasionally for intellectual stimulation or to learn something. This one's different. This book has changed me. I can never think of the world or the people in it the same way again, because of this book.
As others have mentioned doing in their reviews, in reading this book I began asking myself, "Am I the kind of person I want to be? Am I truly Christlike? Am I doing the things I should in this life?"
I recommend this book to anyone and everyone, unequivocally. Just be warned: this book will change you.
--- I decided to include my journal entry I wrote about this book:
October 24, 2014
I just finished reading this book, There Is No Me Without You, by Melissa Fay Greene. My wife had actually been bugging me for a while to read it, but it wasn’t until a coworker mentioned the book to me that I decided I would give it a try. ( Kadee wasn’t too impressed about that, she said, “So his opinion is more important than mine?” )
In brief, this book is about three things: it is about Ethiopia, it is about the AIDS epidemic, and it is about one Ethiopian lady’s efforts to help a few of the millions of orphans that were created in Ethiopia as a result of AIDS. Her name was Haregewoin Teferra.
The book was powerful. Transformative. Thought-provoking. When others write reviews of this book, they frequently speak of being forced to search their souls and re-examine their lives for true value. I admit that at one point I was getting teary-eyed reading the book in a car garage waiting room while getting the oil changed in my car. Honestly I'm not sure how to express in words my reaction to this book, it invoked in me so many thoughts, feelings, realizations.
There was the section of blistering judgment against Big Pharma and how their greed fanned the flames of the epidemic and allowed countless fellow human beings to die in the name of capitalism.
There was criticism of some people’s thinking, in regards to the AIDS epidemic, that the international community should “cut its losses” and forsake those already infected, because it was “too expensive” or “too logistically difficult” to treat them, and instead focus efforts on teaching prevention to the rising generation. I must admit that a part of me finds itself nodding along to this kind of proposition. It seems economical, efficient. Greene was quick to point out that, in the same vein as the story of the kid throwing starfish back into the ocean, helping people here and now has had a great positive effect.
I was also fascinated to read about how Haregewoin’s life played out. She went through several deep trials which were overcome in unexpected ways that, I felt, exemplified God’s manner of helping us in ways that we didn’t anticipate. Haregewoin was devastated by personal losses early in her life, but her broken spirit was ultimately renewed as she put all the energy she had into caring for those poor, sweet children that had no one else. She exemplified Jesus’s teaching:
Matthew 10:39 He that findeth his life shall lose it: and he that loseth his life for my sake shall find it.
She wasn’t a saint, to hear Greene tell the story. She rolled her eyes, expressed frustration, doubt, and cynicism. But she would roll up her sleeves and do what she could for the kids. At one point she started to receive acknowledgement for her hard work and even some money, and started to have a little pride, and it was at that moment when everything was almost ruined. Humbled, Haregewoin reined in her ambitions and rededicated herself to the kids.
But most compelling to me was the description of the orphans. How they were left behind, dumped on Haregewoin’s doorstep, smuggled in. How they were hurt, unable to fathom why their families were abandoning them, if they even still had family members. How they were desperate to latch onto a parental figure and receive love. Though it was never stated explicitly, one gets the impression that the children needed love even more than they needed food, clothing, or shelter. Greene perfectly depicted the kids so that empathy for and understanding of their plight came easily. It was very emotional to later read of their adoptions and how they found themselves in loving families again.
It was crazy to me how some of these families would drop off their kid and say, “We can’t take care of him anymore.” Haregewoin, her resources stretched beyond thin, would try to explain that she couldn’t either, but in these battles of wills the kid invariably ended up with Haregewoin. To hear Greene tell it, she never could say no to taking in a child, no matter how badly she wanted or needed to. That indicated to me that there was something special inside Haregewoin’s heart, perhaps that spark of charity that we must all seek to obtain, for without it we are nothing, NOTHING. One can’t help but ask oneself, in reading this book, “Do I have charity in my heart? If I were put to the test, would I really have what it takes to help another human being?”
Read this book and find yourself asking that question....more
My mom recommended this book to me at a time when I didn't have anything else to read, so I gave it a go.
I did not enjoy this book. The premise is cutMy mom recommended this book to me at a time when I didn't have anything else to read, so I gave it a go.
I did not enjoy this book. The premise is cute, but far-fetched enough that I never actually believed it. In fact, I believed the events of the story less and less as things got more and more ridiculous. I kept asking myself, "Why don't the characters do this, or do that?" It was all just too implausable.
Once a story is so utterly implausable as this one was, all you're left with is symbolic and allegorical meaning, but to me those meanings are lessened when told as a story you simply don't believe could happen. A good story will be symbolic within a viable story arc, in my opinion.
Besides, the later pages of the book, in keeping with the story's "gimmick", are unbearably annoying to read. I don't want to give anything away, but you'll get the idea if you read this book.
Even the final resolution was a mystery to me. There was no explanation as to how the main character resolved the issue, only that she had, in fact, done it. There was no logical connection of HOW the main character had done it. Just another annoying inconsistency in the story.
The only thing this book has going for it is that it's short. So if one of your friends is just ravenous over you reading it, I guess you could muscle your way through it, but don't expect a great story.