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Monique and the Mango Rains: Two Years with a Midwife in Mali
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Monique and the Mango Rains: Two Years with a Midwife in Mali

4.13  ·  Rating details ·  3,249 Ratings  ·  382 Reviews
Monique and the Mango Rains is the compelling story of a rare friendship between a young Peace Corps volunteer and a midwife who became a legend. Monique Dembele saved lives and dispensed hope in a place where childbirth is a life-and-death matter. This book tells of her unquenchable passion to better the lives of women and children in the face of poverty, unhappy marriage ...more
Paperback, 214 pages
Published September 1st 2006 by Waveland Press (first published July 1st 2006)
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Oct 29, 2007 rated it it was amazing
This book was hands-down the best Peace Corps memoir I have yet to read. Holloway's story wasn't a glorified quarterly report, listing all the projects she initiated or completed; neither was it an enumeration of the hardships, challenges, substandard living conditions, and poverty she faced. Rather, she described the development of her friendship with her local counterpart (Monique) in terms that were accessible. Although the story took place in West Africa, it wasn't about West Africa.

Most of
Diane S ☔
Apr 11, 2013 rated it really liked it
Kris was a young Peace Corp volunteer, straight out of college and her request for assignment was Mali. After initial training she met Monique, who was a young midwife, in this very poor village. Learned many heartbreaking facts about Mali, one of the poorest nations in the world, the amount of women dying in childbirth is heartbreaking. Monique quickly took Kris under her wing and with Monique she experienced her first birth, she was so profoundly affected by this she vowed never to have childr ...more
Jul 25, 2008 rated it really liked it
Shelves: review-copy
I received this book for free from the publisher. All content and opinions are my own.

Two years in the Peace Corps. A poor African village. Another memoir. Another culture story. Nope, this book was anything but warn.

Kris Holloway spent her two years in the Peace Corps in the Malian village of Nampossela. She spent two years by the side of Monique Dembele, a midwife for hundreds of women. The author’s love for the African village, and especially Monique, transcended the pages. Holloway found a t
I have a rule that if I'm in tears at the end of a book, it gets five stars. So: five stars. i don't think this is a perfect book, but it is well-written and I was incredibly touched by the friendship of Monique and Kris. I'm very glad this book got written and published.
Emma Deplores Goodreads Censorship
3.5 stars

Of the Peace Corps memoirs I’ve read, this is by far the most positive; I get the sense that Kris Holloway enjoyed her time in Mali, in addition to being enriched by it. She seems to be an active rather than introspective person, which surely helped. And most importantly, she sees the people she meets as individuals, rather than as manifestations of a foreign culture; she treats people as people, like equals, rather than viewing them through the prism of their disadvantages.

The primary
Mar 23, 2010 rated it it was amazing
"I realized there was, in their stories, a sense of calm in her final minutes, a lack of urgency in the actions or the telling. That was a sharp contrast to the flurry of activity to prolong a life in our country. Hers was not seen as an emergency, but rather as the hand of God. How much of this attitude was the product of simply not having the knowledge or resources to save the dying, I didn't know. I did know that I had to accept their stories, for they were all I had."

Amazing, beautiful, heat
Jeanette  "Astute Crabbist"
Aug 05, 2008 rated it liked it
Recommended to Jeanette by: ShanaG
A very quick read. This is the first Peace Corps memoir I've ever read. I know there are a lot of them floating around out there. This book gives a good idea of what a Peace Corps volunteer might do in a small African village. If you ever take simple things for granted, you need to read a book like this. No toilet paper, or substitutes for it, in this village!!
Kris Holloway spent 1989-1991 in the village of Nampossela, near the border with Burkina Faso. She forged a strong friendship and workin
Rennie Morrell
May 20, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Inspiring story.

Monique, like the Mango Rains, lasted only a short while, but added immeasurable sweetness. This story was fascinating on so many levels. First, it makes one realize how it takes special people to be Peace Corps volunteers. God bless them all. Then, it highlights the Malian people's resilience and caring. The author humanizes their lives so we see not only the pain and struggles, but the joy they share with each other. And finally the story profiles an amazing woman who selflessl
Bethany Zimp
Apr 09, 2017 rated it liked it
Short memoir of a Peace Corps members memories of living in Mali with one of the busiest midwives in the nation and ultimately a memorial of her death in childbirth. There was actually much less maternity information and stories than I was expecting. The author did a better job than most of acknowledging bias and sharing her Westernized views of African culture and communities.
Jul 10, 2010 rated it really liked it
Monique and the Mango Rains by Kris Holloway was a book club selection. One, that in all honesty, I probably would have never chosen on my own. Kris Holloway served in the Peace Corps for two years. She was assigned to a remote village in Mali to assist midwife, Monique Dembele.

At twenty-four, Monique was quite young to be a midwife. She was the only medical personnel for the village of Nampossela. Mali has one of the highest fertility rates in sub-Saharan Africa - 6.8 children. The maternity m
Feb 08, 2016 rated it really liked it
Kris Holloway is a Peace Corps volunteer in 1989. Her job is a health care worker in Mali where Monique is the local village midwife. This is their story.

Monique has only a 6th grade education with a six (or was it nine) months training as a midwife, but she is well respected in her small village of Namposella. Kris & Monique learn a lot about each other. For example, Kris learns about female genital mutilation and Monique is surprised that few American women have this done to them. Kris ord
A sweet and loving memoir of a Peace Corps volunteer's time in Mali and her respect for the bittersweet life of her friend, confidante, and support there, a talented, skilled midwife who struggled with ambitious and romantic daydreams, too great a thirst for life and knowledge and love than the constraints of her life had to offer, but gave more than she had to the lives she encountered within those circumstances. The book offers a warm and open look at complexities of cross-cultural relationshi ...more
Jun 15, 2012 rated it liked it
I'm almost always interested in fiction or non-fiction stories set in other cultures and this was no exception. Kris Holloway was a Peace Corps volunteer 1989-1991 in a small village in Mali. She primarily worked with the amazing Monique who acts as a general health care practitioner and midwife for the villagers. Daily life can be back-breaking labor, or other work from morning to night especially for the women. Oh yes, another patriarchial society that frustrated and disturbed me as I moved th ...more
Jo Oehrlein
May 09, 2012 rated it liked it
Shelves: non-fiction
This is the story of the author's two year Peace Corps stint in a small village in Mali. There, she worked with and became a member of the midwife's family. That midwife is the Monique of the title.

The book covers the hardships (six foot cobra in the house, misdirected menstrual supplies), the successes (the building of a new birthing house, successful deliveries), the funny (mis-steps in the native language, awkwardness planting), and the every day (weighing babies, eating, etc.).

The book discu
Lola Allen
Apr 24, 2015 rated it it was amazing
I really enjoyed reading this book. As an avid fiction reader and writer, I was rather sceptical about reading a book that fell into the non-fiction category. I am however very interested in reading books that are about or from Africa, so I decided to give this book a go, and I'm glad that I did.

What a fantastic book! Although it was non-fiction, Kris Holloway did a wonderful job of bringing the characters and setting to life (especially Monique). To the point where I felt like I knew some of th
Oct 19, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Much of the author's success in writing this book comes down, in my opinion, to her focus: Monique. It would have been easy to open the story with the author's arrival in Mali, or her Peace Corps training, or a scene of an awkward cultural misunderstanding (there are some misunderstandings, but they're secondary), but instead she structures the book around her time with Monique.

At times I wished that I hadn't read the introduction -- it makes for such a bittersweet book! -- but I loved reading a
May 12, 2014 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2013
A touching story of a Peace Corps volunteer on assignment in Mali to aid the village midwife. Monique encompasses so much, it is a rich tale of friendship as well as exhibiting the hardships and obstacles of the Mali people. The author did a wonderful job describing scenarios and histories of the village, village inhabitants as well as introducing us to Monique as a midwife and on a personal level. Ms. Holloway's writing is simple with enough educational information without coming across as a re ...more
Jul 28, 2012 rated it it was amazing
I am half way through this book and I am really upset. Poor Monique works tirelessly for up to 18 hours a day, and actually sometimes she doesn't even get to sleep at all, birthing the babies of Namposella while her husband picks up her salary. This small amount ($23 a month U.S.) could be used to feed her family as she has a growing child of her own. Instead, her husband squanders her salary on such items as his girlfriends new wardrobe while his wife and child literally starve, eating only oni ...more
Elizabeth Desole
Aug 08, 2015 rated it it was amazing
This was such an inspiring read. This is exactly the book I want to read from a peace corps worker. She is so evenhanded. She does judge people, but by their actions only. She really tries to understand the culture and put people's behavior in the context of it. But let's face it, some people are jerks and that will be true wherever you are. She acknowledges this and delivers a very human portrait of the town in Mali that she spent 2 years living in. She is so modest and open minded and acceptin ...more
LOVE LOVE LOVE this book!!! If you like a story that takes you to a far away place and lets you sit with the locals around a cooking fire this is it.
A young woman is sent to Mali by the peace corps to assist a local midwife in her daily rounds and set up a better clinic for the women.
All I can say is WOW. Its an eye opener for any westerner to see what daily life in Mali is like let alone what its like for it 's pregnant women. As a reader I felt a part of it and when the book was finished I h
Jul 22, 2008 rated it really liked it
This was another Early Reviewer book from LibraryThing and I really loved it. It's the memoir of a Peace Corps volunteer who spent two years in Mali - a country that I admittedly know very little about. The author's host was the village midwife (the Monique in the title) and the book is a really wonderful look at a community working together to improve healthcare and especially labor and delivery for it's members. It also makes it clear just how life changing cross-cultural experiences such as t ...more
Lauri Saplad
This is an amazing story about an exemplary woman. With very little support from family, culture and village, Monique Dembele became a healthcare worker in Mali. Women there are subjected to hardship and cruelty as regular, typical treatment. This woman overcame poverty, discrimination, indifference, and ignorance to go on to change and save lives. Written by Peace Corps volunteer, Kris Holloway, this story demonstrates the very real friendship she shared with Monique and village life in Mali. A ...more
Caitlyn Sahlberg
Mar 29, 2016 rated it it was amazing
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Jan 12, 2009 rated it really liked it
I was afraid that this memoir of two years spent as a Peace Corps volunteer in Mali would be mostly about the author and the difficulties of being a volunteer. Instead, the book was a wonderful account of the friendship between the author and her village hostess, the "midwife" of the community. The author doesn't try to remove herself from the story to write an "objective" account, but she also doesn't make the story all about herself.

Highly recommended.
Tejas Janet
Dec 10, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Thoughtfully written and very engaging. Full of hope but tinged with sorrow. Holloway really brings the country and people of Mali to life on the pages here. Even though we are forewarned about the sad ending from the beginning, it didn't lessen my sadness about the loss of a beautiful soul, taken too soon from this earth.
Jan 12, 2014 rated it really liked it
Recommended to Hannah by: Dorcas
To be honest, this was a lot better then I expected it to be. Monique sounds like she was a beautiful person doing a lot of good for her community. Author Kris Holloway did her story and her legacy justice IMO.

I admit to freely crying at the end.
Jan 30, 2008 rated it it was amazing
Such a rich story of a young woman's experiences living in a village in Africa and working alongside the village midwife.
Apr 29, 2008 rated it it was amazing
This was a wonderful memoir of a Peace Corps volunteer's experience with a midwife in Mali. At times I was laughing outloud and others I was crying. Wonderful- I want to know more.
Jessica Crawford
May 09, 2017 rated it it was amazing
There was so much about this book for me to love!

I have a degree in anthropology, I work in healthcare as an RN in a NICU, and have considered going on to become a midwife at some point. In Monique and the Mango Rains we get a glimpse of village life in Mali, the work of a midwife facing a statistic of women having a 1 in 12 chance of dying in pregnancy and childbirth, and her endeavors as the village's only healthcare worker to educate and promote community health in a way that was feasible fo
Jun 13, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Having spent time in Ghana, I fell in love with these African people and culture right away. Holloway did a terrific job spinning a tale from her memories as a member of the Peace Corp in Mali. The characters were rich, the storyline captivating, and Monique the main character was flat out heroic. I was sucked into the Mali world and there remained from start to finish. I left the book feeling edified and with a renewed hope for our world and the unsung heroes around us. I am grateful Holloway t ...more
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