Monique and the Mango Rains: Two Years with a Midwife in Mali / Edition 1

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Overview

Monique and the Mango Rains is the compelling story of a rare friendship between a young Peace Corps volunteer and a midwife who became a legend. Monique Dembele saved lives and dispensed hope in a place where childbirth is a life-and-death matter. This book tells of her unquenchable passion to better the lives of women and children in the face of poverty, unhappy marriages, and endless backbreaking work. Monique's buoyant humor and willingness to defy tradition were uniquely hers. In the course of this deeply personal narrative, as readers immerse themselves in the rhythms of West African village life, they come to know Monique as friend, mother, and inspired woman.
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Editorial Reviews

Library Journal
In her first book, Holloway blends a vivid description of her Peace Corps experiences in the West African nation of Mali from 1989 to 1991, with a warm tribute to her colleague, dear friend, and host there, Monique Dembele. Reading Holloway's book is akin to enjoying the slide show presented by a returned Peace Corps volunteer while sampling the local cuisine. Holloway succeeds at simultaneously conjuring up her day-to-day life in an impoverished African village and aptly describing the unrelenting work and life of the devoted midwife there, a woman, like the author, then in her early twenties. The difficult plight of women in Mali is made apparent throughout. While Holloway's story is a personal one (she met her future husband during her Peace Corps stint), the rhythm of life and death in Mali itself shines through all the pages. Holloway uses amusing anecdotes and heartbreaking recollections to transport the reader. Recommended for public and academic libraries, especially those where there is an interest in African or women's studies. Mary Grace Flaherty, Sidney Memorial P.L., NY Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
A respectful, unsentimental portrait of a village in Mali, and a moving story of a warm friendship between an American Peace Corps volunteer fresh out of college and a young Malian health worker. Holloway spent two years, from 1989 to 1991, working alongside Monique Dembele in the tiny village of Nampossela, where Monique served as midwife. The author is immediately plunged into the birthing business by her capable new friend, whose medical resources are severely limited but whose personal assets are quite extraordinary. Trapped in an unhappy arranged marriage, Monique, who has her own household to run and has her own baby strapped to her back, works long, hard hours to bring other women's babies safely into the world, to teach mothers how to feed and care for their offspring, and at the same time to minister to the general health needs of the whole village. Holloway does all she can to help, working at Monique's side, weighing babies, teaching women how to make rehydration formula, striving to bring birth control to the village women and arranging for Monique, rather than her feckless husband, to collect her monthly paycheck. She seems to slip easily into village life, joining in their celebrations, sharing their food and drink, living in a tin-roofed hut without electricity or running water. At the end of the two years, she and her fiance, another Peace Corps volunteer, return home, having arranged for Monique to visit them in the U.S. the following year. (In one of the funnier moments here, inexperienced traveler Monique agrees to fly only after learning that she will be able sit inside the plane and not cling to the outside.) Holloway does not disguise the realities of life in a poorrural African village, and yet she is never condescending. Her admiration, respect and love for Monique come across as genuine, as does her grief at Monique's death. A poignant and powerful book. (16 b&w photos, not seen)
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781577664352
  • Publisher: Waveland Press, Inc.
  • Publication date: 7/24/2006
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 240
  • Sales rank: 195,181
  • Product dimensions: 6.00 (w) x 8.90 (h) x 0.60 (d)

Meet the Author

Kris Holloway
Kris Holloway
Kris Holloway is riveting readers with Monique and the Mango Rains: Two Years with a Midwife in Mali, in which she shares the compelling story of the rare friendship between the author -- then a young Peace Corps volunteer -- and a midwife who became a legend.

Biography

Kris Holloway served as a Peace Corps Volunteer in Mali, West Africa from 1989 - 1991, where she met her husband John Bidwell. She holds a M.P.H. from the University of Michigan where she focused her research on maternal and child health. She has used her unique background in writing, public health, and development to further the mission of numerous non-profits and educational institutions including Planned Parenthood, the Greenbelt Movement International, the Western Massachusetts Center for Healthy Communities, the University of Michigan, and Springfield College. She currently works with the National Priorities Project, a non-profit organization offering citizens and community groups the tools to shape federal budget and policy priorities that promote social and economic justice.

Kris is also involved with fundraising and strategic planning for Clinique Monique, a rural clinic in Mali. A percentage of proceeds from book sales help to fund this growing health center. She is a confirmed Francophile, loves chocolate, and sits on a physio ball while at her computer. She lives in Northampton, Massachusetts with John and their two sons (both born at home with midwives).

Good To Know

Some fun and fascinating outtakes from our interview with Holloway:

"I descend from an illustrious line of Swedish pig butchers."

"I love dancing and will wiggle my derriere at the slightest provocation."

"My husband John and I got engaged on the Nile River after finishing our Peace Corps service."

"I love playing games. Traditional games like Monopoly and Scrabble, card games as well as new games, like Apples to Apples, True Colors, and Cranium."

"There's a couple of inspirational sayings that I keep where I can read them: "If you asked me what I came into this world to do, I will tell you: I came to live out loud." And one by Charlie Parker "If you don't live it, it won't come out of your horn."

"I'm a runner and would travel on foot everywhere if time wasn't an issue."

"Bumper stickers on my 2002 MPV mini-van: Remember, pillage first, then burn; Queen without a Country; Keep the Earth clean - It's not Uranus!; The road to health is paved with good intestines.

"I have two tattoos (one for each of our children) and would get my whole body covered in my favorite images (despite not having any more children) if my husband didn't stop me."

"I love polka music -- not enough to buy it -- but enough to not turn the dial. It's so happy."

"I don't like being put in a box. I was a ‘rock head' (environmental science major with a penchant for geology) in college, hung with the acting crowd, and belonged to a sorority."

"I drink organic, freshly ground coffee and also hanker for gas station sludge with Cremora."

"I find medical technology fascinating and fabulous, and had our children born at home with lay midwives."

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    1. Also Known As:
      Kris Holloway-Bidwell
    1. Date of Birth:
      June 12, 1967
    2. Place of Birth:
      Smyrna, Tennessee
    1. Education:
      B.A. in Environmental Studies, Allegheny College; M.P.H., University of Michigan
    2. Website:

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Sort by: Showing all of 12 Customer Reviews
  • Posted August 22, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    forget about everything else...

    I tend to read books that are from real life experiences, almost exclusively. "Monique" was suggested to me by a friend who was reading it for a writing class. Although I enjoy browsing at my local B & N, my friend was so enthusiastic about it that I cut to the chase and made the purchase. From the moment I started reading, I was captivated. The descriptive writing was so vivid that it was as if a movie was playing inside my head. The characters, the landscape, the buildings...all were alive and in color. I found myself absorbed in to the pages. I literally couldn't put the book down. I read for hours, stopped for a snack and continued reading. The main character's enthusiasm and, at times her frustration, took hold of me. I almost felt as I had a duty to continue on, putting everything else on hold. Thankfully, it was a weekend, as I had nothing planned, other than a couple days of rest. My suggestion would be that you do the same. Set aside some time and jump right in to the book. You won't want to put it down. The more you read, you'll be astounded to learn how primitive conditions still remain the high tech world in which we live. To realize that some people, thousands upon thousands of people, are still living under conditions that most of us, (those of us who are fortunate enough to be able to browse the isles of a book store) surpassed generations ago. You'll take fewer things for granted. You'll find yourself smiling and possibly shedding a tear or two. All in all, a terrific book and a very easy read.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 11, 2010

    Motherhood in a Global Context

    I recently read this book in my women's book club. In addition, my sister-in-law knows the author's family personally. Having spent time in both Northern Africa and West Africa (Senegal), and being at the age where many of my friends have recently had their first child using a midwife, I found this book especially interesting. While it may seem to be more about motherhood and women's health, it is also about a meaningful friendship between two women, who normally would not have crossed paths. It is also about cultural immersion and travel. After finishing it, my mother, and husband read it, then I mailed it off to one of my close friends who's expecting her second and becoming a doula! I highly recommend this to anyone who loves to travel and learn about other cultures.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 10, 2008

    Moving and Inspiring Story

    What an amazing eye opener to the world of West Africa that is so primitive and yet shows such beauty. I have been inspired by the courage of those who serve in the Peace Corp but even more moved by the bravery and selflessness of Monique. Please read this book if you want to be reminded of the extraordinary power of women to change the world.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 19, 2007

    a book for every woman

    this book was an impulse read for me and i ended up not wanting it to ever end. i thought about monique for days after i finished reading it. thank you to the author for sharing this story with us. it will help me to always be grateful for the life i live. i only wish i had joined the peace corps.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 16, 2006

    Mother of a Peace Corps Volunteer

    A beautifully written book. This is the moving story of a young woman's too short life, who struggles against great odds to help and educate others. Kris Holloway has hononed Monique in a very special way and at the same time reveals a needy world we'd rather not think about.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 6, 2006

    Highly Readable

    I loved this book and hope it soon becomes part of high school and book club reading lists. It is a wonderful, funny, sad, and touching true story about friendship, hardship, the unfair treatment of women, and so much more.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 31, 2006

    Should be required reading for everyone over the Age of 16

    Poignant, realistic, honest, nonpreachy, amazing..... we should all take a lesson here on how incredibly fortunate we are and still how much we can learn from Monique...

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