Friday, May 1, 2009

Review: First Comes Love, Then Comes Malaria

Summary: In this laugh-out-loud funny memoir, a pampered city girl falls head over little black heels in love with a Peace Corps poster boy and follows him —literally–to the ends of the earth. Eve Brown always thought she would join the Peace Corps someday, although she secretly worried about life without sushi, frothy coffee drinks and air conditioning. But with college diploma in hand, it was time to put up or shut up. So with some ambivalence she arrives at the Peace Corps office–sporting her best safari chic attire –to casually look into the steps one might take if one were to become a global humanitarian, a la Angelina Jolie. But when Eve meets John, her dashing young Peace Corps recruiter, all her ambivalence flies out the window. She absolutely must join the Peace Corps - and win John's heart in the process. Off to Ecuador she goes and - after a year in the jungle - back to the States she runs, vowing to stay within easy reach of a decaf cappuccino for the rest of her days. But life had other plans. Just as she's getting reacquainted with the joys of toilet paper, John gets a job with CARE and Eve must decide if she’s up for life in another third world outpost. Before you can say, "pass the malaria prophylaxis," the couple heads off to Uganda, and the fun really begins--if one can call having rats in your toilet fun. Fortunately, in Eve’s case one certainly can, because to her, every experience is an adventure to be embraced and these pages come alive with all of the alternatively poignant and uproarious details. With wit and candor, First Comes Love, then Comes Malaria chronicles Eve’s misadventures as an aspiring do-gooder. From intestinal parasites to getting caught in a civil war, culture clashes to unexpected friendships, here is an honest and laugh-out-loud funny look at the search for love and purpose—from a woman who finds both in the last place she expected. -- Broadway

Ever since I saw FIRST COMES LOVE, THEN COMES MALARIA: HOW A PEACE CORPS POSTER BOY WON MY HEART AND A THIRD-WORLD ADVENTURE CHANGED MY LIFE by Eve Brown-Waite on The Debutante Ball, I knew I wanted to read it. I try to read each one of the Debs' books as they are released because these books always seem to appeal to me. And because I am a regular follower of "the ball," I feel as if I kind of "know" the authors. I'm happy to say that FIRST COMES LOVE was another fantastic book that didn't disappoint!

I don't know if many of you know this about me, but I live kind of a pampered life (and I always have.) My husband takes really good care of me and my parents did too when I was a child. I am not really an outdoorsy-type of gal; and besides running outside, I tend to gravitate to more sedentary/indoor hobbies like knitting, crocheting, and reading. I am also definitely not a risk-taker or adventuresome in the least -- my idea of a visit to Africa is the safari ride at Disney's Animal Kingdom. So when I picked up this book about a woman who joins the peace corps and then chooses to live in Africa, I knew this was going to be one of those books that I'd enjoy because it was so different from anything I had ever experienced.

I absolutely loved Ms. Brown-Waite! I found myself continually in awe of her life experiences, yet I couldn't help but feel an affinity towards her as she realized what she was getting herself into. She's without a doubt much tougher than I could ever be, but I still felt a great deal of compassion towards her as she realized just how primitive her living conditions were. Some of the things she faced were just incredible to me -- forget about the shootings, I couldn't even handle the bugs! I also loved how Ms. Brown-Waite shared the story of how she met (and fell in love with) her husband. It was a terrific love story that definitely deserved telling.

I found it so easy to like Ms. Brown-Waite as a person, but I also really liked her writing style! Her story is an interesting one, but I really appreciated how honest she was in telling it -- it was so refreshing. I love how she was willing to share not only the funny stories and the humor in her life (because she does have loads of entertaining tales), but I also really respected that she shared with the readers her fears, insecurities, and even her personal challenges. I found her ability to cope with all types of terrifying situations, as well as her ability to adapt to be very admirable.

FIRST COMES LOVE is a wonderful book that I am definitely recommending to my friends. My only complaint is that I want more of Ms. Brown-Waite's life experiences -- I am sincerely hoping that there will be a sequel to this book. I think FIRST COMES LOVE would make a great book club pick too especially for those groups who tend to gravitate away from non-fiction. While this book is filled with lots of very real discussion issues, it is also a great and entertaining read. I was thrilled to find that there is a reading guide available.

Thanks to Kate from Folio Literary Management for sending me a copy of this wonderful book!

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Anonymous said...

Oh my gosh!! That is going on my TBR pile. I normally don't read Memoirs but this sounds really good! Thanks for posting it!

bermudaonion said...

I really want to read this one! I'm like you, I would never go on an adventure like that. I love to read about things like that, though, because sometimes I wish I was a little more daring.

Jen - devourer of books said...

I'm glad you liked this, I thought it was absolutely terrific, and I totally love Eve now.

Alyce said...

This sounds like a fabulous book! I love reading memoirs and books about people who are out of their element. I'm adding this one to my wishlist.

S. Krishna said...

I loved this book and wish for a sequel as well. The Debs are the best, aren't they?

Ali said...

I really enjoyed this one, too (more on that here). Eve did a great job of writing as if she were talking to a friend. I'll be she wrote great letters home!