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There Is No Me Without You: One Woman's Odyssey to Rescue Africa's Children
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Tour d'Afrique A-L Books 2008-12 > Greene: There is No Me Without You | Ethiopia (Tour D'Afrique) first read: Mar 2011

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message 1: by Marieke, Former guide & Chief Chatterbox (new)

Marieke | 2838 comments Mod
Feel free to start posting your thoughts!

Chrissie For me, this is an important book to read. I like that it summarizes Ethiopian ancient and more recent history. I like that it clearly states the numbers behind the AIDS situation in Africa and Ethiopia, more specifically. I like the summaries about oedical history, the medications and supplies and when they became available.

Most importantly, the numbers are given a face. They are no longer just numbers. The pictures in the book are interwoven with the stories of these individuals' lives. To understand what these nunumbers of AIDS victims mean you must put a face on them. This book is doing that. I am about halfway through.

message 3: by Marieke, Former guide & Chief Chatterbox (new)

Marieke | 2838 comments Mod
wow you read fast! i looked through it yesterday and was impressed with her footnotes and bibliography. it's defintely not a frivolous book. the pictures are beautiful, too.

Chrissie Marieke, not only are the pictures marvelous but you will learn about the individuals so you will know who they are! This turn the numbers into real live people. I started it maybe Sat or Sunday. I forget now. I have it written down on GR.....

Chrissie What? Is nobody reading this at all? You don't have to finish it to have thoughts on it. Others ere negative to the title. I would love to hear what they think as they read the book. Me, I liked it very much.

message 6: by Marieke, Former guide & Chief Chatterbox (new)

Marieke | 2838 comments Mod
Chrissie, the reading period lasts until April 30...i'm sure more will be joining in! i must finish a couple of books before i start this one.

Chrissie That would be nice, but you mustn't feel you have to. I enjoyed reading the book all myself. This is the first group read I have ever done so it is not like I was expecting anything in particular. i am just a little surprised that those who voted for it haven't said a word......

Anne (awarf) Hi, I haven't posted in awhile -- I had thought I'd lurk a bit longer before commenting about this book, but Chrissie, you've encouraged me to post. I can see where the title may turn some away, but I really thought it was an excellent book. The statistics really helped to put the AIDS pandemic and poverty of Africa in perspective. Although the book is specific to Ethiopia, I briefly visited a couple of similar facilities for orphans in Zambia a few years ago. The stories of the orphans and the challenges that Haregewoin faced sounded much too familar. Unfortunately, I suspect there are too many of these stories throughout the continent. Although the author clearly sided with Haregewoin during Haregewoin's more human and fallible moments, I think this point of view really helped bring home the challenges of someone in her position. I felt this was a very meaningful book.

message 9: by Chrissie (last edited Mar 08, 2011 09:50PM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

Chrissie So nice you left some comments, Anne. I gave the book four stars. What about you? I felt that what was particularly good was that both the statistics AND the lives of particular orphans were presented. I do not think statistic hit home unless we get to know a few of the individuals making up these numbers.

I felt that the author did side with Haregewoin but did not make her into a demigod. She was shown realistically with all her faults! This made her more real. I could not but be angry when I saw how people wanted more and more and more from her. And then the criticisms began. And this thenomenon is all to true. Succes brings forth jealousy and selfishness . Some iniduviduals clamored for aid to THEM, they didn't get it, and things got nasty. Some other individual running orphanges thought their methods were better, but she was ine of the very few who took in HIV positive orphans. When you are in the spotlight, others will take advantage to be illuminated too.

Meeting these kids really moved me. tThe things they said.....

I wrote a GR review. For those interested here it is :

Anne, you are lucky to have visited such orphanages in Zambia.

message 10: by Anne (new) - rated it 5 stars

Anne (awarf) Chrissy, I don't give out 5 stars lightly, but I did give this book that rare rating.

I agree with much you said. The statistics, medical background and history were all an important part of this book. They helped to make the stories believable and real. Without that background, I think the stories might sound rare or exaggerated. I also felt that Greene gave an appropriate amount of background information, and blended it well with the orphans' stories to keep the numbers from becoming dry.

I also want to point out that I don't fault Greene at all for siding with Haregewoin. I think the tendency would be to try to turn Haregowoin into some type of saint. I was glad Greene was able to show all that Haregowoin accomplished, and still put her flaws out there for all to see. That was another part of what made the story believable.

If you're interested in my GR review, here's the link:

message 11: by Marieke, Former guide & Chief Chatterbox (new)

Marieke | 2838 comments Mod
wow, guys...i'm really looking forward to reading this book! hopefully i'll manage it within the next couple of weeks.

Chrissie Anne, I am really a stickler with my stars. Me, I only gave it four! I read your review. What is interesting is that we both appreciated that the author did not turn Haregewoin into a demigod! We both liked that the statistics and the individual portrayals were well balanced. I agree, this is a book that should be read!

Content is more important than title.

Marieke, it is a good book. Do read it when you have a chance.

message 13: by Melanie (last edited Mar 10, 2011 08:38PM) (new) - rated it 3 stars

Melanie | 171 comments I read this one awhile back and have enjoyed reading your reviews, made me remember that I did like this one.

Chrissie Melanie, that is nice you joined us! Was there any particular aspect that you appreciated?

Melanie | 171 comments Chrissie wrote: "Melanie, that is nice you joined us! Was there any particular aspect that you appreciated?"

Hi Chrissie! To be honest, it was awhile ago that I read it so I can't pinpoint one particular thing. I agree that I think it is important that this book put faces and names to the statistics - makes it real.

Chrissie Melanie, exactly, a bunch of numbers will not sink in!

Elizabeth (elizabethinzambia) | 73 comments Hi All,

I have enjoyed and appreciated reading all your comments- since I was the one who suggested the book, I really hoped that you would appreciate it. I read it in my book club in Zambia a few years ago and I appreciated it so much that I sent copies of it to all my friends in the US who didn't understand why I had spent 15 years working on AIDS in Africa- I felt like the book really helped to explain what I was doing and why I was doing it. So, I am very glad that you all appreciated it, too!

Anne, I am interested to know which orphanages you visited in Zambia and when were you there?

I left Zambia a few months ago and I live in Tanzania now, but I left my heart in Zambia. I know so many special people there doing work similar to Haregewoin's, and have recently met some here in Tanzania, as well. These people are the closest I have ever met to true angels.

message 18: by Anne (new) - rated it 5 stars

Anne (awarf) Elizabeth, I really admire anyone who can dedicate so many years to children orphaned in such extreme circumstances. I was only in Zambia for a little over two weeks. So, I was limited in how much I saw, but I have to admit I was overwhelmed. I visited 3 facilities run by Alliance for Children Everywhere, who also oversees some schools for the orphans. I visited those as well. My job was primarily educational - to simply return & report back to my organization about what I saw - in order to keep supporting Alliance for Children Everywhere.

I think that a huge reason that I liked this book, is that the author found a way to present the information without being overwhelming or trying to impart guilt. It was very readable, and also very realistic. Thank you for recommending it. I have passed the title along to a couple of friends as well. Anne

message 19: by Marieke, Former guide & Chief Chatterbox (new)

Marieke | 2838 comments Mod
I should get to read this book in April...i have to finish up some others first! :D

I just read this article about the last book in the Wallander series by Henning Mankell. I didn't know much about Mankell...he has a very interesting connection to Africa and a project he developed there is very much related to this discussion!

is anyone familiar with it?

message 20: by Anne (new) - rated it 5 stars

Anne (awarf) Marieke, I just read the Mankell article. I haven't read any books in the series, but I may have to put it on my "to read" list.

The memory book project is such a great idea. I'm sure it is very meaningful for the kids who lose their parents -- even more so for those who have no extended relatives to take care of them. I would imagine the tricky part is finding the ill parents before they pass away, to help them create the books. A lot of the orphan facilities probably only meet the children/extended relatives after the parents are gone. I would imagine that someone would have to have a contact among the AIDS workers or medical clinics -- or maybe a pastor or a respected leader in a community -- to find the ill parents. I was in Africa in 2007, and it was still fairly taboo in many communities -- to tell someone that you were ill with AIDS. It was becoming more acceptable to ask for help though. I did have an opportunity to visit an AIDS research center operated by Emory University. They really stressed how difficult it was to gain the confidence and trust of people in many communities. I would imagine that being able to pass on one of these memory books would be just as comforting for a parent though. It sounds like a great project. Thanks for sharing the info!

Sharon (goodreadscombookslinger1) | 47 comments Oddly, I came across Melissa Fay Greene's book in Addis Ababa on the shelf of the A-Hope guest house. A-Hope is a school orphanage for HIV+ children. An American volunteer told me that it is "required reading" for staff. I bought it on the way home a week later but put off reading it. The title made me think the book would be sappy and the author a do-gooder. When I finally did read the book, I was so surprised at the story of Haregewoin and the struggle to deal with the HIV-AIDS epidemic in Ethiopia. The author is top-notch and a good researcher to boot. Due to my ignorance of real Africa, I am always surprised by all books about Africa and everything I learn about Africa. Reading the book after my visit to Addis made me see the work of A-Hope in proper perspective and appreciate the availability of life-saving drugs for HIV+ children.

Andrea | 660 comments Met a couple this week who adopted twin girls from Ethiopia. The girls were adopted a year ago and are now three. The wife had read Greene's book and said it was really helpful in explaining to sceptical relatives why they decided to adopt from Ethiopia.

message 23: by Marieke, Former guide & Chief Chatterbox (new)

Marieke | 2838 comments Mod
i have gotten very behind in some of my reading; i still plan to read this, very soon in fact. and i plan to read Dervla Murphy's book. my apologies for getting so behind!!

Chrissie I saw that Greene has a new book out now, a follow up! Reviewed in the NY Sunday Reviews.

message 25: by Marieke, Former guide & Chief Chatterbox (new)

Marieke | 2838 comments Mod
Chrissie wrote: "I saw that Greene has a new book out now, a follow up! Reviewed in the NY Sunday Reviews."

oh my! i can't keep up! i'll go find the review shortly. :D

i mapped out all my reading for the next two months and incorporated some of the stuff i fell behind on, so it looks like (if i can keep on track) i'll read Greene's (first!) book the week of May 15. :D

message 26: by Chrissie (last edited Apr 29, 2011 08:35PM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

Chrissie Marieke, I am with you. With so many authors out there to taste one must vary!

Andrea | 660 comments I looked very briefly at Greene's new book. It looks like mainly about her life in America with her adopted children.

Chrissie Andrea, do you have the link to this book? I cannot remember the title. Often follou-up books are never as good as the first, but that is just my general observation.

message 30: by Marieke, Former guide & Chief Chatterbox (new)

Marieke | 2838 comments Mod
Andrea wrote: "No Biking in the House Without a Helmet"

people seem to really like it! i might have to read it later this summer.

Chrissie I have added it too, although it is not yet available in the Kindle format in Europe :0(

message 32: by Marieke, Former guide & Chief Chatterbox (new)

Marieke | 2838 comments Mod
Shamefully I still have not read this book. But I still have it in my "soon" stack so don't give up on me! The new social reading site inReads recently posted an essay by Greene about raising her children, both human and literary. I thought the piece was very enjoyable and made me kick myself for not having read her book yet.

message 33: by Erin (new) - rated it 4 stars

Erin | 3 comments I read it and liked it, although I was initially put off by the title. Now that I understand it wasn't in reference to the author I appreciate it more. Unfortunately, I had No Biking in the House without a Helmet on my to-read list and didn't realize that the books were by the same author, so read the "biking" one first! I would have appreciated them much more if they were read in correct order. The crisis in Ethiopia is mind boggling and I appreciate that Haregeowin sacrificed so much for those kids -- inevitably there are criticisms, because we seem to need our "heroes" and then when those heroes turn out to be sadly human we turn away in disgust...... although people criticized, nobody else was willing to do what she did. I can't imagine the heartbreak. I'm envious of the author's ability to travel and to be able to adopt some of the children - I know that it is a controversial issue, but she seemed to have the resources to also provide them with links to their original cultures which was so wonderful. (I read on the author's website that Haregeowin died unexpectedly in 2009).

message 34: by Marieke, Former guide & Chief Chatterbox (new)

Marieke | 2838 comments Mod
Thank you, Erin, for sharing your thoughts. and reminding me that i really *must* find the time to read this book! It's true that it is critical for adopted children to have some form of ties to their birth culture, if not their birth family. i'm really curious to see how Greene accomplishes this. and of course i'm keen to learn more about Ethiopian history and events....

Elizabeth (elizabethinzambia) | 73 comments I am just reading "No Biking in the House..." right now, and I am glad that I read "No me without you" first (and several years ago).
I am enjoying No Biking and it is certainly giving me new insight into the author. Adoption has always been appealing to me, but it is not something my husband is interested in. I am enjoying the author's frank approach to the challenges, but sometimes feel that she has put a layer of icing sugar on the whole thing- I bet is it not as easy as she makes it sound, though without personal experience, it is hard to say.
I just read the comment that Haregeowin died in 2009- I wonder what happened to all her children? Does anyone know?

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