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From Barnes & NobleBarnes & Noble Discover Great New Writers
The New York Times called Cooper's memoir "mesmerizing in its portrait of a Liberia rarely witnessed." Most readers, if they think of Liberia at all, have a vision of a child soldier wielding a gun in the service of Charles Taylor and his murderous regime. But Cooper's account is of a happy, vibrant childhood, only later followed by the horror of a war.
On the west coast of Africa, Liberia was founded in the 19th century by freed American slaves, sent across the ocean to their own land of opportunity. A descendant of Liberia's most prominent settlers, Cooper and her family are privileged "Congo people" who, like many others, take in a child of the "Country people" -- less privileged native Liberians -- as a companion for Cooper and her younger sister.
Cooper's narrative rings with the sounds of her country's melodic dialect, introducing eccentric relatives, describing family outings and schoolgirl dramas. But disaster strikes in the form of a coup, bringing a violent encounter to their oasis at Sugar Beach, and the Coopers -- forced to leave Eunice behind -- flee the country, landing in the American South. Years later, Cooper finds her footing and a calling as a foreign correspondent, yet something is missing in her life: Eunice, and a better understanding of her own history. Decades later, she returns to Liberia, to begin the hunt for both. (Holiday 2008 Selection)