Blood & Milk Kindle Edition
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About the Author
- Publication Date : June 23, 2016
- File Size : 956 KB
- Word Wise : Enabled
- Print Length : 326 pages
- Publisher : BlueHeart Press (June 23, 2016)
- X-Ray : Not Enabled
- Screen Reader : Supported
- Language: : English
- Text-to-Speech : Enabled
- ASIN : B01GU2RUY0
- Enhanced Typesetting : Enabled
- Page Numbers Source ISBN : 153367261X
- Lending : Enabled
- Best Sellers Rank: #327,095 in Kindle Store (See Top 100 in Kindle Store)
- Customer Reviews:
Top reviews from the United States
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Arriving at a Maasai village in the dark of night, Heath doens't receive the warmest of welcomes. It's not a village that caters to western tourists. The village chief somewhat reluctantly lets him stay and assigns Damu to take care of him. Although the son of the chief, Damu is an outcast in the village, not allowed to become a warrior like the other young men, because his father foresees a different future for him.
Damu's quiet strength calms and heals Heath's broken heart. But as the friendship between the two men begins to transform into something more, they risk everything, including their very lives. The culture Heath has inserted himself into does not accept homosexuality to any degree, to the point where it could mean death for Damu if anyone finds out.
Although clearly not autobiographical, “Blood & Milk” certainly reads like one. While one or two plot points may require you to suspend disbelief, the story as a whole reads as if it might just be possible. The descriptions of the Maasai customs and way of life seems entirely realistic, at least to someone who has only a casual knowledge of the culture.
The book will appeal to readers on several levels. The writer captures the vast gulf between so-called ‘modern’ western culture and the traditional tribal culture of Africa. Heath has to keep reminding himself not to be too judgemental about things like the secondary status of women, and many other things. The romance that develops between Heath and Damu also manages to avoid all the common clichés.
This is an unusual subject and, though it is told from a white perspective, it is an imaginative exploration of the meeting of two vastly differing cultures and the ways in which two people, one from each, might find common ground. It is really great to read a romantic gay love story that does not rely on stereotypes and roles. Walker presents us with real and idiosyncratic individuals who have to work to know one another. I recommend Blood and Milk very highly for anyone interested in the Housa, or a great gay love story, or just a good book to read. (I consider four stars to be a good rating, and reserve five stars for only a very few books that I consider be really superior works of art.)
I am one of those people who read the end of the book before I read through the entire novel so I knew the ending before I read the rest, but the journey for Heath and Damu was so wonderful, when I finished the first reading I went right back and read it again. I gagged with Heath over the goat's milk and blood mixture he drank.(You'll understand the book's title once you read through those scenes.) I loved how he didn't just start telling the Maasai how they needed to change and get with the new century. I loved how he respected their culture and tried to fit in, not change it. Sure he had to keep reminding himself not to judge these people by his white Australian mores and ethics but he recognized their strengths and the rightness of their style of living for themselves.
So far a Damu goes, I wanted to hug that man so badly!! Kind, gentle, quiet, loving, protective, giving. The adjectives just go on and on. He's not a wuss. He had pride and strength of purpose. He loves his family and his people.
There is just so much in this short novel that I find myself at a loss for words. One reviewer called it a white savior book--you know, white man goes to aboriginal tribe and saves them bringing them into the modern society etc etc. There is so much more to this book than any one label could give. Are there elements of white savior, sure, but, Ms. Walker stays far from the stereotype. Every time I expected her to take the story in one direction, she twisted it and took it to a different place. She never ever hit us, the reader, over the head with her themes or her opinions. I applaud her for her work and I can tell you now, I will be rereading this book again soon. I wish I had the funds to send a donation to the African Human Rights Coalition but unfortunately, I have no spare funds for charity, damn it, but maybe you do? Think about it, okay?
Top reviews from other countries
Let me just tell you about a few things that I felt would make me a suitable beta for this tale, and made me respond to NRW's request for betas to provide cultural/sensitivity feedback: I'm British of Mauritian descent, and have lived in both the UK and Mauritius; I've seen and experienced things from both sides of the fence, some good and some not so good. I'm married to a Caucasian guy and know many Africans (my bestie is Ghanaian) and am respectful of their traditions, beliefs, foods and culture, though some are rather unusual and unfamiliar to me. My hubby and I have encountered some very mild forms of prejudice in the 28yrs we've been together, all from non-Caucasians, and mostly from strangers, and we've seen how things have changed for the better. Our 24yo son (with toned-down but mostly Mauritian colouring, but with dad's height, build and physical strength), has grown up in a world that's changed for the better in many ways, and I am grateful to say, has never encountered any form of prejudice living in London, which makes me grateful and proud. Now, onto the book:
Blood and Milk opens with the aftermath of a terrible tragedy that has changed Heath's life - he no longer has a life. He's not really alive and living life, but has been simply existing since he lost someone who meant so much to him, and he's become a loner. Friends have drifted away and he doesn't have family support, though ironically, through the tragedy, he's not short of money. He's a guy who's a dreamer - literally, and not really figuratively until the end of the tale - and who has learned to listen to his premonitions/visions. He hears the voice of his lost love in his dreams, but hasn't been able to move on or move away from their shared, lost life, until his dreams tell him to leave behind everything he's ever known, to go in search of something. Nothing specific, if I recall correctly, simply that his life needs to go in another direction, without delay.
He leaves all mod cons behind him and ends in in a Maasai village, where he's met with acceptance and also with a degree of suspicion; Africans, like Mauritians, won't turn people away simply out of ignorance or because it's not convenient, so yes, I believed that Heath was welcomed into the tribe, though reasonably, some kept their distance until they learned his worth. As to the almost eerie thing that made the chief of the tribe accept him? One of the best and most original uses of the heterochromia trope that's become so popular in MM tales in the last few months. I believed in it, because I know that MANY cultures believe in superstitions, in tales told from generation to generation (often with embellishments) and in things that must happen or be allowed to happen, as they've been foretold in dreams/legends/lore...
So, Heath becomes known as Alé - Milk - and is given hospitality by Damu, a younger son of the chief, who was so named, meaning Blood, as his mother died giving birth to him. Damu is almost, but not quite, treated as an outcast of sorts. There are reasons for this, which won't be revealed until almost the end of the tale, and which made it all the more believable for me, and made me believe in love, in the acceptance of things that we don't entirely understand, or sometimes condone and simple human decency and goodness.
Through the months Alé lives with the tribe, he proves his worth to them and he embraces their customs and life, in ways that I could never have imagined doing, but in which I could imagine my Caucasian hubby doing, to a surprising degree. [I've inadvertently offended members of my extended family by not always eating what I've been offered - food is key to Mauritians (and may other ethnicities), and indigenous Mauritians aren't very well off, but will always offer the best hospitality that they can. However, my husband has managed to wow all of my family by his obvious pleasure and enjoyment of what he's offered, and by always cleaning his plate.] He's been called a white Mauritian, which is nothing but the truth in the eyes of my rather non-PC and very literal older family members - for this reason, unlike some haters/ignorant readers/critics, who I think and feel are creating something from nothing, without actually reading the tale, I didn't have a problem with the names being used. There was no artifice, there was no racial distinction or division, there was no malice - it was simply a question of honesty and saying it as it is. Which makes me feel like saying, 'Open your minds, people, and embrace things, just like Heath did! Learn a little, and get rid of the hate, jealousy and resentment, because as events in Orlando showed, there's too much of that already IRL.'
The tale isn't overly romantic and it's not sensual and sexy, but for once, this didn't bother me. Because the tale had so much more. It made me feel very humble and grateful for the life and the freedoms that I have - both in the UK (which I kind of take for granted, apologies) and to a lesser degree (because Mauritius is still a developing, 'what will people say?' country - you can take the people out of Mauritius, but you can't take Mauritius out of the people, as I've come to learn) when I lived in Mauritius. These days, the PC brigade (and/or simply haters) are quick to jump on a comment perceived to have even the vaguest connotations with colour/race/anything even vaguely contentious, but this tale needs to be taken in context: a tale taking place in an ethnic community, where people are honest, open and totally un-two-faced. There. I've said it as bluntly and frankly as I can. If you're offended at anything in this tale - yes you, the bullies/haters I mentioned - then perhaps you need to go away, engage brains and see the bigger picture. And perhaps reflect a little, learn a lot and think twice or more before engaging mouths.
The tale was one of acceptance, of finding oneself, of bringing out the best in oneself and others, of sharing and giving and taking the best learnings from life. I'm not saying that there weren't, not unreasonably, some elements of prejudice and assumptions based on appearance, mannerisms and fear of what's not entirely understood, but again in context, it was entirely believable and acceptable. It was a tale that made me feel, that humbled me and made me grateful for Heath coming into Damu's life, for Damu being the one with the power to heal Heath with his being and the 'power of himself', and to make him want to live and love again. It was a tale that reinforced my belief that there's someone out there for everyone, but that the path to finding that person isn't always easy. I won't bore you with too much more of my personal circumstances, but events in my life made me connect with this tale, and that's why Damu and Alé and their lives - their changed-for-the-better lives - resonated so strongly for me.
The tale does end in a HEA, but the path to the leads getting there wasn't easy and I understood why NRW had to take some liberties with the tale, with events and with rules/not. But, hey, which author doesn't?
This was an excellent tale, and NRW has done her research - I know, as I'm a picky reader, reviewer and beta, so I went and checked. I've not examined or wondered or asked about NRW's motivations, but perhaps, as with other authors, the leads came to her in a dream, that she then turned into a tale - in this case, one in which dreams have particular relevance. I didn't need to know her reasons for writing it, but I'm grateful she did. And, yes, though I got an ARC, as you can see, I've bought my own copy of this tale, because it's simply that good.
I enjoyed reading the story from Heath's POV, his pain at the beginning of the book is palpable, his character development, guided by Damu is wonderful to read. Damu is a beautifully written character, he is crisply written and his gentleness and vibrancy leapt from the page. I don't want to give anything away, I would be doing you an injustice, you need to read it and totally submerge youself in the story. It's not all sweetness and light, there is a dark side to the story, it is illegal to be gay in many areas of Africa, and often those in same sex relationships are imprisoned for life or are put to death. Ms Walker is obviously aware of this and works it into the story.
Easily one of the best reads so far of 2016. Indeed, I would go as far to say it is probably the author's best book yet, and I am a massive fan of her work. A beautiful book which is a definite must read.
i was thoroughly absorbed into Heath and Damu's world through NR Walker's wonderfully descriptive story telling. I saw the Serengeti plains and the animals running free there. I felt the heat and the cold of the climate along with the passion and yearning of the characters. I learnt about a people largely untouched by the 21st century and I fell in love with Heath and Damu. The story line was strong and well told and the support characters interesting and relevant. This was an exceptionally good read for me and I look forward to reading more from this author in the future.
i couldn't put this book down the story is heartbreakingly beautiful it broke me and put me back together again
i love heath and damu there story is about finding yourself and finding love and a reason to live again after heath looses someone close to him.
I would recommend this book and i would re read it to.
Thank you nr walker for another beautifuly told story can't wait to see whats next.