Tuesday, July 12, 2016

Leaving Before the Rains Come by Alexandra Fuller

Alexandra Fuller's memoir Leaving Before the Rains Come recounts her young adult life in Africa, as well as her transition to her own family life. It is a tale of finding place in an unstable and often contradictory world. Her parents, both eccentric types, taught her how to stand on her own, as well as how to survive in the challenging land of Rhodesia. She learns the lessons of the African bush, as well as learning the witticisms and life lessons from her tough-as nails father and her flighty mother.
When Alexandra marries, she has great hopes for her athletic, energetic husband and his ability to stabilize her life, but she is not emotionally mature enough to make it work. This is not a criticism of her character, but rather a reflection of the influence of her parents and their ideas about the instability of life. In some ways, she seems unprepared to be married or to carry the weight of a normal adult life.
Toward the end of the memoir, Alexandra's story takes a tragic turn and I found this part of the story to be most compelling. The disintegration of her life and her reflection upon her part in it is an especially poignant picture of what it means to know, but not really understand, another person. 
The first part of the book moved very slowly for me. The antics of her parents were so "over the top" that I had trouble connecting with their point of view. At once silly and philosophical (and drunk), they exerted a great influence upon their daughter's worldview. However, I found these chapters a bit chaotic and scattered.
I wish I could find more of a hopeful lesson from this chapter of Alexandra's life rather than what I am ultimately taking away, which is this: Learn to deal with the changes in life, even if you do not know what you are doing. 
Overall, an uneven effort and I was challenged to maintain my interest.

*I received a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.  Regina

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The old grey donkey, Eeyore stood by himself in a thistly corner of the Forest, his front feet well apart, his head on one side, and thought about things. Sometimes he thought sadly to himself, "Why?" and sometimes he thought, "Wherefore?" and sometimes he thought, "Inasmuch as which?" and sometimes he didn't quite know what he was thinking about.

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