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Extended Audio Sample Love in the Driest Season: A Family Memoir, by Neely Tucker Click for printable size audiobook cover
4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 4.00 (1,128 ratings) (rate this audio book) Author: Neely Tucker Narrator: Neely Tucker Publisher: Penguin Random House Format: Abridged Audiobook Delivery: Instant Download Audio Length: Release Date:
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Foreign correspondent Neely Tucker and his wife, Vita, arrived in Zimbabwe in 1997. After witnessing firsthand the devastating consequences of AIDS on the population, especially the children, the couple started volunteering at an orphanage that was desperately underfunded and short-staffed. One afternoon, a critically ill infant was brought to the orphanage from a village outside the city. She’d been left to die in a field on the day she was born, abandoned in the tall brown grass that covers the highlands of Zimbabwe in the dry season. After a near-death hospital stay, and under strict doctor’s orders, the ailing child was entrusted to the care of Tucker and Vita. Within weeks Chipo, the girl-child whose name means gift, would come to mean everything to them.

Still an active correspondent, Tucker crisscrossed the continent, filing stories about the uprisings in the Congo, the civil war in Sierra Leone, and the post-genocidal conflict in Rwanda. He witnessed heartbreaking scenes of devastation and violence, steeling him further to take a personal role in helping anywhere he could. At home in Harare, Vita was nursing Chipo back to health. Soon she and Tucker decided to alter their lives forever—they would adopt Chipo. That decision challenged an unspoken social norm—that foreigners should never adopt Zimbabwean children.

Raised in rural Mississippi in the sixties and seventies, Tucker was familiar with the mores associated with and dictated by race. His wife, a savvy black woman whose father escaped the Jim Crow South for a new life in the industrial North, would not be deterred in her resolve to welcome Chipo into their loving family.

As if their situation wasn’t tenuous enough, Zimbabwe President Robert Mugabe was stirring up national fervor against foreigners, especially journalists, abroad and at home. At its peak, his antagonizing branded all foreign journalists personae non grata. For Tucker, the only full-time American correspondent in Zimbabwe, the declaration was a direct threat to his life and his wife’s safety, and an ultimatum to their decision to adopt the child who had already become their only daughter.

Against a background of war, terrorism, disease, and unbearable uncertainty about the future, Chipo’s story emerges as an inspiring testament to the miracles that love—and dogged determination—can sometimes achieve. Gripping, heartbreaking, and triumphant, this family memoir will resonate throughout the ages.

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Quotes & Awards

  • A triumph of heart and will. O, the Oprah Magazine
  • An extraordinary book of immense feeling and significant social relevance. Love in the Driest Season challenges anyone—even those numbed by the world’s abundant cruelty—not to care. Washington Post
  • Unceasingly compelling and filled with soaring highs and lows, Love in the Driest Season is a remarkable memoir of love and family. Pages
  • A gorgeous mix of family memoir and reportage that traverses the big issues of politics, racism, and war. Publishers Weekly (starred review)
  • Utterly heartfelt and truly inspiring. Booklist (starred review)
  • Tucker’s hard-hitting memoir . . . is an almost unbelievable tale of bureaucracy, lunacy, and love. The suspense is stomach-wrenching and infuriating. Orlando Sentinel
  • Selected for the Barnes & Noble Discover Award

Listener Opinions

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 by Debbie | 2/13/2014

    " "Love in the Driest Season" was a fascinating book set in Zimbabwe. The story was compelling and the writing was well-done. It was a book that made me think a lot about the country, differences in culture, and the exploding problem of AIDS in Africa. I highly recommend the book. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 by Erika | 2/13/2014

    " Neely Tucker and his wife Vita move to Zimbabwe where he is stationed as a foreign correspondent. At the time, AIDS, the economic and political unraveling of the country left thousands of orphans in its wake. While volunteering at an orphanage in Harare, an abandoned infant on the brink of death arrives and Vita is charged with taking the baby to the hospital for care. The hospital discharges the baby on the condition that she go home with Vita rather than back to the orphanage where she would surely die. And so, Vita and Neely become the caregivers and ultimately, the family of little Chipo. The trouble is, in the midst of the anti-American climate brewing in Zimbabwe at the time, combined with a mind-numbing bureaucracy and rampant corruption, it takes more than one miracle for the Tuckers to not only legally adopt Chipo, but to get her (and themselves) out of the country before it was too late. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 by Yvonne | 2/7/2014

    " A book to keep you on the edge of your seat, Mr. Tucker's account of living and adopting in Zimbabwe is troubling and hard to put down. He writes about the horrifying collapse of family structure due to the AIDS epidemic in Africa with great perception and clarity. The plight of orphans in Zimbabwe is terrible to learn and this book offers no hope for improvement, which is the unfortunate reality of the situation. The specifics of his personal journey are fascinating but made me very anxious to read. Until the very end of the book, it is not clear how his family's situation could be resolved. A very good book, well-written and edifying. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 by Leslie Leslie | 1/16/2014

    " Exceptional memoir of the years in Zimbabwe while Tucker covers every African horror story and tries to adopt a little Zimbabwe child who was abandoned. Beautifully written. "

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