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.
An active correspondent, Tucker crisscrossed the continent, filing stories about the uprisings in the Congo, the civil war in Sierra Leone, and the postgenocidal conflict in Rwanda. At home in Harare, Vita was nursing Chipo back to health. Soon she and Tucker decided to alter their lives forever by adopting Chipo. That decision challenged an unspoken social norm: that foreigners should never adopt Zimbabwean children.
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 gratae. 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 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.
"This is a gorgeous mix of family memoir and reportage that traverses the big issues of politics, racism and war." (Publishers Weekly)
"Tucker has written an affecting, powerful memoir....Utterly heartfelt and truly inspiring." (Booklist)
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batter than 5 stars
- reggie p
Excellent, worthy of time and attention