After reading Robyn Scott’s memoir last week, I felt anxious to start another book about Africa. But I wanted one that was a little more upbeat (which certainly isn’t a complaint about Scott’s book; I thoroughly loved it and am still thinking about it).
Enter Eve Brown-Waite.
I read a few pages of Brown-Waite’s memoir, First Comes Love, Then Comes Malaria (Broadway Books, 2009) on Amazon and was hooked. Once I got my hands on the book, I couldn’t put it down.
When she was still just Eve Brown, the author was a twenty-something nice Jewish girl living in upstate New York, working at a rape crisis center, and dreaming of joining the Peace Corps. So she decided to follow her dream and apply for the Peace Corps, even if it meant driving 90 miles for an interview.
It was love at first sight.
Not the Peace Corps, mind you, but the recruiter. She found reasons to contact him after the interview and before long they were a serious couple. But Eve had signed up for the Peace Corps and John, her recruiter/boyfriend, expected her to plunk down somewhere in the developing world for two years.
Although she entertained the idea of skipping out on the Peace Corps, she feared John would look down on her and maybe even break up with her. Plus, she hoped to become more like his worldly friends, mostly fellow returned Peace Corps volunteers.
The Peace Corps sent Eve to Ecuador, where she became a sort of guardian to wayward children. After some medical issues, she returned to the US before she’d completed those two years and she and John took up where they left off.
And then they married and moved to Uganda.
My favorite part of the book was the Uganda section. Before reading this book, the only things I knew about Uganda were Idi Amin and Entebbe. Brown-Waite presented a lovely country with gorgeous views and lush vegetation. While in Uganda, Eve came down with malaria, as the book’s title suggests, and developed pregnancy-like symptoms. But no doctor there could confirm a pregnancy.
What follows is a laugh-until-you-cry account of her family’s not-so-glorious expat life in Uganda. Even when her part of the country succumbs to guerrilla warfare, she manages to keep her sense of humor.
She concludes the book with a short note from Uzbekistan, the Brown-Waites’s next port of call. I can’t wait for the sequel.