Book Review: Bread from the Sky July 29, 2011Posted by Jaidis in 4 Tree Reviews, Book Reviews, Hazel O'Shea Reviews.
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How many cat heads do you have to eat before you acquire the characteristics of a cat? Why do you hang a snail shell in a tree? How do you get a curse removed? And who buried a gri-gri in the yard? These and other questions are answered in Bread From the Sky.
Wanting a career change and armed with a graduate degree in international studies, a woman in her mid-40s leaves her divorce and ordinary life behind for a two-year stint as a Peace Corps Volunteer in Togo, West Africa.
She learns survival skills in order to live without electricity or plumbing like the rest of the people in her adopted village. She also gains language skills as, in addition to French, which is still the official language, there are over half a dozen local languages in common use at her village. Adjusting to a new culture, several different languages and some very old attitudes is sometimes difficult, frustrating and funny.
There are friends to be made, foods to get used to, bureaucrats and insects to contend with, health issues to recover from and red tape to choke on. Dealing with people who want to rip her off, who harass her (sexually and otherwise) and who always want something from her isn’t easy. The challenges are offset by the warmth and friendship that was found along the way as well as some amazing adventures. As a wise man said to her, “Africa will change you, whether you want it to or not.”
This is a true story of the author’s two years in Togo as a Peace Corps Volunteer.
Bread from the Sky by Marie McCarthy is a touching and truthful story, recounting the author’s two years spent in Togo, West Africa as a Peace Corps Volunteer. Ms. McCarthy dove right into her new lifestyle with undeterred optimism and an authentic thirst for learning everything and anything about the Togolese ways. Despite the lack of electricity, running water and sterile, hygienic living conditions we are accustomed to here in the U.S., Marie couldn’t help but feel delighted to be there! The landscape was beautifully untouched and the people were extremely welcoming. Strangers were greeted and befriended immediately, making one a stranger no more. The Togolese had very little, sometimes going without food and basic necessities, yet their cheerful attitudes never wavered. This was refreshing to Marie and she fit in perfectly.
The trip wasn’t without its hardships and frustrations. Marie had gone there to work, but many of the villagers lacked motivation and organization. They had expected the white woman to bring with her gifts and money to dispense throughout the village, and were constantly asking for things without wanting to work for them. This aggravated Marie and more often than not, kept her from accomplishing what she had gone there to do. She was determined to make a difference, and though it wasn’t always in the ways she had planned, she did just that.
Bread from the Sky reads like a diary or journal, guiding the reader through these experiences with Marie. I found it very informative and eye-opening! If you are a fan of documentaries, I certainly recommend reading this book!