Judy's Reviews > The House at Sugar Beach

The House at Sugar Beach by Helene Cooper
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's review
Oct 11, 2009

really liked it

i loved this book, but I have to admit that I listened to an audio edition read by the author and I think that added to the impact of the story. Hope, I have the audio and will lend it to you if you would like. Helene Cooper is a daughter of Liberia. In fact, she is "Congo people"--a privileged member of the ruling elite in Liberia. The Congo people are descendents of the free blacks who were transported back to Africa in the 1820s and 1830s by the American Colonization Society which purchased land for new country of Liberia on the west coast of Africa. And the author's ancestors arrived on the first two ships of free blacks to be transported there. Helene Cooper's family lives outside of Monrovia, the capital, in a 22 room mansion at Sugar Beach. Living with the family is Eunice, who is "Country people" and is a Bassa girl. Fostering a Country people child to live with the family was a common practice of the Congo people and traditionally provided a great deal of upward mobility for the fostered child. On April 12, 1980, a coup was launched against the Congo people, William Tolbert, the president was assassinated, and the government was taken over by an Army enlisted man named Samuel Doe. The Congo people were then subjected to a blood bath and Helene's family fled Liberia and moveed to the United States. Unfortunately, they had to leave Eunice behind. Helene ultimately attends UNC-Chapel Hill, becomes a journalist, and writes for both the New York Times and the Wall Street Journal. In 2003, she returns to Liberia for the first time in order to find Eunice and confront her past. Helene Cooper tells a fascinating story of starting over in a different culture and recovering from a devastating past. Reading this book made me more aware than ever of the blessings of liberty and the grace of living in this country.
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