Thursday, April 26, 2012

Book Review -- Don't Let's Go to the Dogs Tonight


Don't Let's Go to the Dogs Tonight

My enjoyment rating: 4 of 5 stars
Book source:  Personal copy
Genre:  Memoir
Objectionable material:  Language

Living with obstacles worthy of the Old Testament – drought, frogs that escape through the plumbing, snakes that inhabit the kitchen, more vermin than one can count, insects the size of small rodents, filth, and illness, – Alexandra Fuller and her family don’t necessarily make an Exodus through the Red Sea, but they do transverse three African countries as her father works as an African ranch manager.

In Don’t Let’s Go to the Dogs Tonight, Alexandra (Bobo to her family) recounts her nontraditional childhood spent in civil war ravaged Zimbabwe (as well as Malawi and Zambia) – from helping her mother herd wild cattle, to protecting the family home from rebels and terrorists, to nearly dying from contaminated water – it’s remarkable that she and her sister (Vanessa) survived to tell the tale. In fact, life was so dangerous 4 of her siblings (3 referred to by name, one just by birth date), do not survive – all so tragic that with each death, her mother is nearly physically and mentally destroyed.

In comparison to a similar survival story, Jeanette Walls’ The Glass Castle, what made Alexandra’s story more engaging, was that Alexandra’s parents weren’t intentionally trying to harm her – or living an illegal life – they just happened to choose a very difficult career in a very dangerous, remote area.

This was an astounding and well written story – I was amazed at her endurance and grit.

Ms. Fuller has written a sequel, Cocktail Hour Under the Tree of Forgetfulness, which tells in more detail her parents' story and her mother's mental breakdown.  I am eager to continue the Fuller's story.