I thought this book, FIRST COMES LOVE, THEN COMES MALARIA, was okay. Not great. Not terrible. But okay.
I don't plan to go into detail about why I didn't like this book too much. All of the two-star reviews for this book already point out its weaknesses. In a few words, however, here are the reasons I didn't like this book much:
1) This book, despite its title, does not have much insight about the Peace Corps. The author dropped out of the Peace Corps early (for fair reasons), and moved on with her life. I only mention this as a con, for due to the book’s title, I expected it to have more to do with the Peace Corps.
2) The book read as a run-on memoir. There didn't seem to be "a point" to the book; it was just a continuous account, with no climax or epiphany or edification: for the author, or for the reader.
3) The author tries very hard to be witty. Sometimes she is. Other times, she's not. Other times still, it's distracting...
This book is in the same vein as Maarten Troost's "Sex Lives of Cannibals" and "Getting Stoned with Savages." The book follows Eve from her post-college Peace Corp experience in South America, to Uganda with her husband and eventually baby via CARE.
To me, it just didn't live up the standards of Troost's books. I never really felt like I understood what day to day living was like there. People and situations seem to pop in and out throughout the book with the sense that they've been there all along but you haven't been hearing about them. For example, we didn't get a sense of what the wildlife around them was like until about 150 pages in, and even then it's only mentioned once, there's a whole chapter on bringing the cats to Uganda from the US and then they're only mentioned a couple more times throughout the book, and at the end when she's saying goodbye to everyone there were several people whose names I knew I'd seen but I couldn't remember exactly who they were, what...
Anyone who lives for any length of time in a developing country brings something home: native handicrafts, an exotic partner, a recurring infection of malaria. In Eve Brown-Waite's case, she brought funny, poignant stories. It took her fifteen years, but she finally published them in her debut, First Comes Love, Then Comes Malaria: How a Peace Corps Poster Boy Won my Heart and a Third-World Adventure Changed my Life. The paperback has just been released.
Brown-Waite's book is a two-fer. It not only traces her Peace Corps stint in Ecuador, but also her life as an accompanying spouse with CARE in Uganda. Both of the foreign sojourns she chronicles are strangely accessible. Unlike reality TV, where we strain to relate to Type-A celebrity seekers, Brown-Waite drops us quietly off the grid - no fanfare, no cash prize, no risk of being voted off the island. We ride along with her as she searches for her opportunity to save the world, as well as when she's just looking for an ice...
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