Wednesday, February 04, 2015

Leaving Before The Rains Come

As I mentioned in my January round-up post, I have been doing quite a bit of reading lately! So I thought today, I would leave a review of something I've read recently! 

*Please note, I was given an electronic copy of this book for free with the expectation that I would review it. However, all thoughts and opinions are my own!

Alexandra Fuller's new book, Leaving Before the Rains Come, weaves stories of her childhood in Africa amongst the story of her marriage.

Fuller's childhood was no stranger to adversity. Growing up in Rhodesia (now Zimbabwe) she saw several wars take place, lost siblings, watched her mother spiral into depression, and relied on her older sister Vanessa to help care for her.

Life was chaotic, accidents happened, pain was felt, and yet, the family kept going - with a fair amount of alcohol to get them through.

As Fuller grew she longed for more, and in her early twenties, met Charlie. Charlie. A man from America. A man who seemed stable. Who didn't drink. Who understood more than most visitors, the area Fuller grew up in. And she was in love.

After a brief courtship, they two were married. And from there, Fuller pretty much starts to drown. She can't get work. She can't manage the help they have hired. Adulthood is nothing like she had imagined it. And despite knowing her parents relationship was not perfect, there was a charm in how they had stuck together all these years and were in love through it all.

After the birth of their first child, Charlie and Alexandra pack up and move to America. A place that was wonderful and crazy, and fast-paced, and not what she expected. As she learns to live in this country, where as a blond-haired, blue-eyed girl most took for granted she was born and raised here until she talked, she has to juggle the demands of a growing family, and maintaining a marriage while knowing that something is missing.

As she tells the tale of her marriage, she intertwines stories from her childhood, and often stories that involve her father. Charlie, a man she picked in part because he was so opposite of her family, had no chance to live up to the standards her father had set.

As the marriage is spiraling, the financial crisis hits. Money is tight. Alexandra doesn't understand money and mortgages and second mortgages and money is yet another strain on her.

This book is often heartbreaking to read. The ending is clear from the beginning, despite pulling for the marriage to succeed, for money to magically fall from the sky. But this is a work of non-fiction, not a happily-ever-after fiction story. And while a few miracles are thrown into the mix, none that can save a drowning marriage.

I love Fuller's writing. I enjoyed reading her views on America, and our need to constantly be busy and our concept of time.

The story is not an uplifting one, though, and left me feeling sad. But I suppose this is real life - there are ups and downs, and it is nice to read about a life that isn't sugar-coated. Fuller's honesty and rawness radiated through the pages. Despite having not been in her shoes, I felt her story to the core.

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