....and as a returned Peace Corps volunteer myself, I've read several. Most I've found to be cynical, patronizing, or superficial, or some combination of the above. Kris Holloway has written this memoir from the heart, and has thus given us a loving but true and unsentimental portrait of her life in Nampossela. She describes her experiences with real humanity and humility, and the Malians in the book are flesh-and-blood people, not caricatures or idealized visions of the noble poor. This is due not only to her skills as a writer but also to the heartfelt, human love she felt for the place and her family and friends there, and to a maturity and level of insight beyond her 22 years. Like many of the other reviewers, I cried and laughed often while reading this book.
Disclaimer: I was a Peace Corps volunteer in Mauritania, the country right next door to Mali, during the same period of time that Kris was in Mali. I've also been a practicing midwife for 13 years. So obviously this book touched me personally on many levels, and it's hard for me to be objective. Still, given the other positive reviews, I don't think I'm alone in my love of this book. Buy it and buy many copies, because part of the proceeds go to help educate Monique's children!