Liralen's Reviews > Twenty Chickens for a Saddle: The Story of an African Childhood

Twenty Chickens for a Saddle by Robyn Scott
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's review
Aug 30, 2013

really liked it
bookshelves: africa, nonfiction, z-2014, reviewed

This was one of those rare books that I finished, returned to the library -- and then hunted down on the Internet because I wanted my own copy now.

Scott had an unusual childhood, but what worked so well for me is not what happened (because, although there are plenty of recurring themes, this is not the sort of book that builds towards a climax or chronicles a Big Event) but simply how vividly the people around Scott are painted. Her parents so clearly raised Scott and her siblings to be independent thinkers, to question everything, to entertain themselves -- and they too are such interesting characters. Her father, who chooses to work as a flying doctor because he doesn't particularly like medicine but at least being a flying bush doctor is a bit better. Her mother, who homeschools (sort of; it's a bit more complicated than that, but close enough) the kids but has no interest in sticking to structured education or lesson plans, who is up for adventure but also at loose ends as a stay-at-home parent.

As Scott grows older, her worldview expands, and she gains a greater understanding of the cultures around her. But Botswana is also changing, as is her father's practice -- AIDS hits, stealthily at first but with rippling impact. Scott's family is in a better position than most to see the devastation it wreaks.

It's not a perfect book, and those depicted aren't perfect people, but they get through on a combination of luck and grit, for the most part unscathed. As a book that turned up again and again on 'readers who enjoyed _____ also enjoyed...' lists, it was well placed -- and well worth the read.

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Reading Progress

Finished Reading
August 30, 2013 – Shelved as: to-read
August 30, 2013 – Shelved
September 14, 2013 – Shelved as: africa
September 14, 2013 – Shelved as: nonfiction
May 11, 2014 – Shelved as: z-2014
May 30, 2014 – Shelved as: reviewed

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