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Monique and the Mango Rains by [Holloway, Kris]
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Monique and the Mango Rains Kindle Edition

4.7 out of 5 stars 154 customer reviews

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Length: 256 pages Word Wise: Enabled Enhanced Typesetting: Enabled
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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

This tender, revelatory memoir recalls the two years Holloway spent as an impressionable Peace Corps volunteer in the remote village of Nampossela in Mali, West Africa. It centers on her close friendship with Monique, the village's overburdened midwife. When Holloway (now a nonprofit development specialist) arrived in Nampossela in 1989, she was 22; Monique was only two years her senior. Yet Monique, barely educated, working without electricity, running water, ambulances or emergency rooms, was solely responsible for all births in her village, tending malnourished and overworked pregnant women in her makeshift birthing clinic. With one of the highest rates of maternal death in the world, these Malian women sometimes had to work right up until and directly after giving birth and had no means of contraception. Holloway especially noted Monique's status as an underpaid female whose male family members routinely claimed much of her pay. Monique shared her emotional life with Holloway, who in turn campaigned for her rights at work and raised funds for her struggling clinic. Holloway's moving account vividly presents the tragic consequences of inadequate prenatal and infant health care in the developing world and will interest all those concerned about the realities of women's lives outside the industrialized world. B&w photos, map. (Sept.)
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Review

"Poignant and powerful." Starred review Kirkus Reviews "Achingly real." Editorial board favourite Boston Globe "There are many beautiful books by Westerners about living in Africa... The best ones put the readers in the middle of unfamiliar terrain and make them smell it and hear it. This is one of those books." Minneapolis Star Tribune "I shed several tears while reading this book. Monique and the Mango Rains is a true story that rides the ebb and flow of womanhood in Mali. It also sparks inspiration that differences can be made, and are made, when the right ingredients are combined." Midwives Magazine "Holloway has a fresh and sensitive way of relating events... what she sees, hears, what people say, what she learns and the impact of the different seasons... The postscript describes [her and her husband's] return to Mali in 1999 and again in 2007. They continue to support Clinique Monique in the nearby village of Kouri. You could, too." Mmegi (Botswana) Mmegionline

Product Details

  • File Size: 1203 KB
  • Print Length: 256 pages
  • Publisher: Oneworld Publications (May 5, 2011)
  • Publication Date: May 5, 2011
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B0052TNZEM
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Enabled
  • Lending: Not Enabled
  • Enhanced Typesetting: Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,387,772 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Jesse Kornbluth on October 3, 2006
Format: Paperback
I love the music of Mali. Love how the songs of Ali Farka Toure and Boubacar Traore are about community --- farming and water and schools. And a passionate, exciting CD called Divas of Mali taught me that however poor Mali is --- and it's the fifth poorest nation on the planet --- women in Mali are encouraged to sing. And is that not positive as well?

When she got her letter from the Peace Corps in 1989, a college senior named Kris Holloway knew a few things about Mali I seem to have overlooked. Like: Forget singing --- it's a particularly hard place for women. Most marry by 18 and have 7 children. Mortality rate for pregnant women: about 1 in 12, among the 10 highest. Genital cutting? In Mali, it's almost universal.

And yet here is Monique Dembele, the young midwife in Nampossela, doing amazing work against ridiculous odds. The town's birthing house stinks. A storm has ripped off a corner of the roof. The heat is oppressive. But it is one place where men may not go --- though she has little medicine and modest training, Monique rules here.

The Peace Corps has sent Kris --- the first white person ever to live in this village of 1,400 --- to be Monique's assistant. The friendship is instant. But who wouldn't be inspired by Monique? She has an unfaithful husband. Her father-in-law, a village elder, gets her pay and skims off so much for himself and his son that she can't take good care of the household. And yet Monique is one of life's ebullient spirits: ever-positive, warm-hearted, always looking to help others.

This book is many things --- a reminder of our good fortune in the West, a granular look at another culture, an appreciation of the rich variety of human experience --- but I like it best as an account of a friendship.
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I can add nothing to the praises that previous reviewers have given this book except to say that it is absolutely a must-read. At times funny, at times tragic, always fascinating, it gives great insight into village life and culture in a society very close to the edge of bare survival. An infant mortality rate of nearly 50% is a most sobering statistic. When the infants involved are the children of your friends and neighbors it becomes a heart-breaking one, as I well remember from my year in Nigeria. Certainly the harsh treatment (overworked, genitally mutilated, without any rights to speak of, worn out by constant child-bearing) of women in Mali must play a major role in holding the country back. Those women who, like Monique, labor to improve the situation of their sisters are their country's hope and its future.

Thanks so much, Kris Holloway, for reminding me of what West Africa is like, and for making me acquainted with two quite remarkable women--your friend Monique Dembele, and yourself.
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Before reading this book, my favorite midwifery book was Baby Catcher by Peggy Vincent. Monique and the Mango Rains is every bit as good. I read it in just two sessions, sitting in my comfortable house surrounded by healthy children, too much food, and free-flowing clean water, uncomfortably aware of how much I take it all for granted. I won't easily forget Monique.
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I bought this book because it was required reading for a class in Medical Anthropology. Despite this inauspicious beginning, it is a fascinating, intimate and very readable account of women's lives in an African village only a few years ago. The author is a Peace Corp volunteer who explains her experiences in a clear and fascinating way. It is a book that you want to read and that you learn from at the same time.
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Format: Paperback
....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!
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This is such a fitting tribute to a brave, strong woman that no one outside of her country would have had reason to read about if it weren't for a good friend she made in a Peace Corps volunteer. Monique was a midwife in a small African village, surrounded by a war-torn country and constantly defeated at every turn by a patriarchal society and a lack of some of the most basic resources needed to survive. She was a real-life hero, sacrificing her own happiness to do what she knew was her duty - educate women in caring for themselves and their children, educate villagers about personal health and medicine, and save lives through her own rudimentary medicinal skills. Monique made the best of what she had to work with. She found ways to increase her own knowledge, found resources where there were none to be found, and found ways to discover joys in the simple life she led.

The author, Kris Holloway, tells Monique's story with such an obvious personal interest that it can't help but grab your attention and hold it. Her love for this woman, the village they worked side-by-side in, and the country that is not in any way kind to its women, seep under your skin as you read this well-written memoir. It is upbeat and optimistic, even as it has to tell the harsh realities that many of us have never had to face about life. It is matter-of-fact about things that cannot be changed, and passionate about things that must, one way or another, change for the better. It is never tiresome, boring, or whiny - in fact, it is surprisingly free of any of the negatives that can come from someone writing about a time or a person they may have romanticized, or their own role in such a story.

I'm so glad of the chance to read about this woman and her fascinating culture.
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