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The Garden of Burning Sand

4.06  ·  Rating details ·  2,948 ratings  ·  365 reviews
Lusaka, Zambia: Zoe Fleming is a young, idealistic American lawyer working with an NGO devoted to combatting the epidemic of child sexual assault in southern Africa. Zoe’s organization is called in to help when an adolescent girl is brutally assaulted. The girl’s identity is a mystery. Where did she come from? Was the attack a random street crime or a premeditated act?

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ebook, 688 pages
Published March 26th 2013 by HarperCollins Publishers
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Kristen The sample that was stolen was from the girls' rape kit. It could not be replaced.…moreThe sample that was stolen was from the girls' rape kit. It could not be replaced.(less)

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Average rating 4.06  · 
Rating details
 ·  2,948 ratings  ·  365 reviews

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Samuel Munzele Maimbo
Oct 25, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Set in Zambia, Corban Addison’s book ‘The Garden of Burning Sand’ beautifully captures the ugly legacy of the AIDS epidemic on a society with a complex political, cultural, and economic fabric. Told through Zoe Fleming, a human rights lawyer working in Zambia, the story of a brutal assault of an adolescent girl navigates the many layers of Zambia’s social hierarchies.

Granted, the story includes the standard stereotypes of novels set in Africa which perpetuate the danger of a single story for Afr
Nov 19, 2014 rated it did not like it
After reading all the glowing reviews given to this book I have to admit that I found it a disappointing read. I am not disputing in any way that AIDS is not a major problem in Africa, but so is malaria and other endemic diseases such as Ebola which has caused so many deaths in the past months.

I grew up in Zambia and have many fond memories of a beautiful country populated with some very wonderful people. I also spent many years living in South Africa and herein is the problem with a book of thi
Jun 01, 2018 rated it really liked it
I read A Walk Across The Sun by Corban Addison and found it to be an incredibly well written book with I loved even though the theme was challenging! The Garden of Burning Sand, is an equally challenging book, this time set in Africa, with similar themes. The poverty, neglect and sexual exploitation of young women and children in Africa are very serious topics and ones which can’t be taken lightly, added to this is the situation of Aids and all that surrounds it. I found the story and main chara ...more
Linda C
Aug 07, 2014 rated it it was ok
Shelves: read-2014
I feel bad giving this book only two stars, because I think that Corban Addison can write really well and there were some very good sections. The problems came with the main character, Zoe. She was annoying beyond belief, professed to love Africa so much, yet was constantly sneering and rolling her eyes at things that weren't Western, and of course, she had to be beautiful, rich and a senator's daughter. I didn't understand why her African boyfriend would bother with her or vice versa. They didn ...more
Charmaine Elliott
Jun 17, 2014 rated it liked it
Oh dear! This is my second Addison high expectation ( created by the reviews) dashed on delivery. Whilst trying to create action - and maybe adventure - as our rich and privileged heroine zooms around the world, from the US to South Africa to Zambia and round again - this book lacks depth. The countries are from a travel log, the characters are cardboard and the issues are excessive. I'm starting to feel that Addison needs to focus on one thing. Maybe rape, OR disability, OR Aids, OR the legal s ...more
Toni Osborne
Jun 07, 2014 rated it it was amazing
I couldn't help being tied in knots reading this novel although a work of fiction it was inspired by real issues and offered an authentic glimpse into the horrifying world of child sexual assault in the sub-Saharan Africa. This is actually of story of good people struggling to do right in this world.

This novel is a page turner and weaves together romance, family and human rights issues. While exploring a wide range of pressing world topics including the treatment of women in Africa Mr. Addison’s
Jan 31, 2016 rated it it was ok
If this story had centered on Africa, it would have been a good crime investigation-law court story of justice, as well as a story of a nation at the brink of change. Within are the people, customs, society and traditions of Zambia in the modern world. However, it is told through the eyes of a more privileged North American
Zoe Fleming is a whiny, rich, "woe is me" American and her story interferes with the story of Zuyeya and Africa. She gets in the way. As the story progresses, it becomes more
Nov 25, 2014 rated it it was amazing
This book was an eye opener for me. Reading this book I got a peek at how people like us, with just the same needs, feelings and rights live in fear of living with nothing. Unprotected, physically, mentally and lawfully.
It is so not fair but what do I know, a white teenager in a country that most people don't starve or aren't afraid of leaving their house at night. Someone that has all the basics and doesn't give a second thought at how lucky I am. The novel deals with rape, AIDS, superstition
Jayne Bauling
Insufferably judgmental, American Zoe Fleming claims to love Africa but spends the entire novel shaking her head, rolling her eyes, or feeling nauseous about things African. She apparently has the ability to know in advance who is corruptible (pretty much everyone). Chimamanda Adichie has discussed 'the danger of a single story'; here we get Africa the Aids/poverty/corruption-blighted, only redeemable by Western largesse, in Zoe's expert opinion ... and she is an expert: I mean, she's read Acheb ...more
Lesley Fletcher
Mar 01, 2016 rated it it was amazing
When I began this book by reading the prologue, I hesitated because the writing seemed so stilted and the main character not very appealing to me. Since it was the only book I had brought with me on vacation, I decided to give it a go and am I ever happy I did.

I am sure others have written about the plot/story/characters so I won't talk about the actual structure of the book or any of the three elements.

What I truly enjoyed was the flow of the writing and the ability of Addison to feature char
A beautiful book about the issues surrounding the HIV/AIDS epidemic in Africa, and the links with the high level of rape assaults. The Garden of Burning Sand focuses on a particular incident where a girl was raped in Zambia. Zoe fleming a young American tries to unfold the story behind the crime, along with her attorney friends. I got so attached to the story and found it difficult every time to put it down. A really great read indeed for me.
Nov 20, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Second time I've read this author. Second five star read from me. Brilliant writer. ...more
May 08, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: read-in-2013
I was instantly drawn to this book and anticipated its release, even watching for it by the minute for it to land on KOBO. Addison’s previous (and debut) novel, A Walk Across The Sun is one of my favourite books.

The entire story, The Garden of Burning Sand, was fast paced and kept me engaged from beginning to end....It picked up even more speed around chapter 20....not a book you should skim ahead on or you’ll miss details that are necessary to the unfolding of the story....every word moved thi
Brigid Gallagher
Sep 25, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Zoe Fleming is an American human rights lawyer working in Africa. Joseph Kabuta is a Zambian police officer. Their paths collide when a child with Down's Syndrome is found wandering the alleyways of Lusaka, Zambia, after being brutally assaulted and raped.
Their investigations lead them into danger as they uncover the perpetrator, who has family links to high ranking officials in the countries political and justice systems.
The author highlights the shocking realities of child sexual assault and t
Aya Fareha
Apr 13, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Actually rated it 4.7. Truly exciting. This book reveals how political power play is the same everywhere jn the world. Girls dont feel safe just walking the streets in Africa and men, especially with titles, feel like they have power over these girls. What fuses these norm is maybe also because of the weak judicial system and lawyers and judges are corrupted etc etc.. compelling, touching and can get really suspenseful
Aug 04, 2018 rated it really liked it
4.8 stars for sure! This book has it all: intrigue, suspense, politics, detective work, crime, sabotage, corruption, good vs. evil, and so, so, so much more, all set in Zambia, Zimbabwe, South-Africa, and the US. There’s even a gentle love story with a twist. The writing is clever and believable and sophisticated while being entirely accessible. What a great read!
Jun 08, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Definitely a worthwhile read!! Very strong and engaging style and content. Addison is a master.
Amy Bailey
Jan 14, 2021 rated it it was amazing
Original review posted at:

*Trigger warning: This novel and this review deal with serious issues that may be extremely distressing to some readers, so please be aware of this before continuing to read the review.

In 2012, I picked up a book from the library by an author whose name was new to me. The cover art was absolutely stunning and I instantly thought, “This looks like my kind of book.” I mean, look at that cover! There aren’t enough heart emojis to describe its lovelines
Amanda - Go Book Yourself
A copy was provided by the publisher in return for an honest review.

Zoe Flemming is a highly regarded attorney who has made a life for herself in Zambia. She is sent to investigate a horrific crime. A young girl with Downs Syndrome is raped and left for death in the slums of Lusaka.

I had read A Walk Across the Sun a few years ago so I was really looking forward to getting into this.

Zoe joins forces with Joseph Kambuta to help solve this case. She ends up relying heavy on Joseph as the locals do
Sherri F.
Audio & hard cover: 4+ Beautiful writing and storytelling despite some despicable social injustices it covers. I really enjoyed the book whether I was reading or listening to it (though audio is particularly well done, covering several accents very well). There was a spot or too that it may have slowed or started to bore me very slightly, then got back on track AND I was a little jaded in rating b/c I just read his A Walk Across the Sun a few weeks ago and it was an amazing debut and had me hook ...more
Aug 12, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Happy hours are spent with a book when it entertains, gives suspense, adds to knowledge of a country and sets forth issues that are current.

The entertainment included a love story between Zoe Fleming, a lawyer who had a Mother who "did good" in Africa while often leaving Zoe & her brother to be raised by hired help and an upwardly mobile father who eventually runs for Senate and President in the US.

The country was Zambia including the Zambezi River, Victoria Falls and City of Lusaka slums and
Sep 17, 2016 rated it liked it
Sad but good story about child rape in Africa. Some parts of the main characters personal life and history seemed irrelevant at worst and boring to me at best.
Apr 17, 2014 rated it liked it
Shelves: fiction
An idealistic American lawyer waging battle against corrupt African politicians and an unsympathetic society to find justice for a rape victim with Down’s syndrome should be a sympathetic protagonist for the average reader.

Unfortunately, I found Zoe Fleming a bit too perfect and would have preferred to see one of her Zambian colleagues in the leadership role. Why should it always be an American who teaches the rest of the world how to behave?

That said, Corban Addison’s second novel was gripping
Mar 20, 2016 rated it liked it
I enjoyed this book, although it took me a while to get into it at the beginning and it did not give me any deep or cathartic insights into anything. The main character is a rich young woman who spends much of her time in Africa doing philanthropic work. Her life gets better by the end of the book, and I suppose she does go through some degree of maturation or change in worldview -- but for the most part her character is already formed prior to the beginning of the book and she does not change f ...more
Aug 07, 2013 rated it really liked it
I didn’t like Zoe at the beginning of the book. I thought she was unreasonably and naively idealistic. I stereotyped her as single-issue candidate who neglected the hard work of the big picture. But what I discovered was her tenacity had more to do with principled convictions driven by her personal story. My fear at the beginning of the novel was that the story would be trite in dealing with a complex issue – that is aids and rape in Africa. My fear was not met. I appreciated Addison’s balance i ...more
Fred Shaw
Apr 27, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
"Garden of Burning Sand" takes the reader on a journey to Zambia, Africa current day, and tells the story of the cruel rape of a teenage girl, under the age of 16, with Down's syndrome. Rape has been tolerated in Zambia for centuries, especially among the disabled and poor. Luckily there is an organization with the resources to challenge traditions and a powerful family to go after and punish the man responsible. The man has AIDS which adds to the travesty of the crime. Author, Corban Addison pu ...more
Feb 20, 2015 rated it it was amazing
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Aug 23, 2014 rated it really liked it
This the second book from Corban Addison, once again tackles a subject that we often rather avoid knowing about. He does it as thoroughly as in his first book with great research and accuracy in the telling of the story. I hope he continues to take the covers off these very real issues that are happening very close to home
Jun 12, 2016 rated it did not like it
Not for me. This is the second book by Corban Addison that I have tried to read. I find his writing style lacks character depth and his stories read like a predictable prime time cable drama. I know that a lot of people really enjoy his novels, but I just can't get into them. I won't be picking up another novel by Addison. ...more
Feb 08, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Set in Zambia - full of rape and corruption. An enjoyable read but found it a bit shallow and quick to jump to conclusions at times. Story was interesting and kept me reading. Worth a read so give it a try.
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Corban Addison holds degrees in law and engineering from the University of Virginia and California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo. He began to experiment with writing at the age of fifteen, about the same time he developed an interest in international travel. His early works were mostly essays, reflections and travelogues, but his true love was fiction. For eight years he searched f ...more

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