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For years, the Cooper daughters - Helene, her sister Marlene, and Eunice - blissfully enjoyed the trappings of wealth and advantage. But Liberia was like an unwatched pot of water left boiling on the stove. And on April 12, 1980, a group of soldiers staged a coup d'état, assassinating President William Tolbert and executing his cabinet.
The Coopers and the entire Congo class were now the hunted, being imprisoned, shot, tortured, and raped. After a brutal daylight attack by a ragtag crew of soldiers, Helene, Marlene, and their mother fled Sugar Beach, and then Liberia, for America. They left Eunice behind.
A world away, Helene tried to assimilate as an American teenager. At the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill she found her passion in journalism, eventually becoming a reporter for the Wall Street Journal and the New York Times. She reported from every part of the globe - except Africa - as Liberia descended into war-torn, third-world hell. But in 2003 a near-death experience in Iraq convinced Helene that Liberia - and Eunice - could wait no longer.
At once a deeply personal memoir and an examination of a violent and stratified country, The House at Sugar Beach tells of tragedy, forgiveness, and transcendence with unflinching honesty and a survivor's gentle humor. And at its heart, it is a story of Helene Cooper's long voyage home.
"Among Cooper's aims in becoming a journalist were to reveal the atrocities committed in her native country. With amazing forthrightness, she has done so, delivering an eloquent, if painful, history of the African migratory experience." ( Ms. Magazine)
"Helene Cooper's memoir is a remarkable page-turner: gripping, perceptive, sometimes hilarious, and always moving." (Jeffrey D. Sachs)
Customer ReviewsMost Helpful
By Taryn on 03-25-16
Can't recommend it
I listened to this for my bookclub. I am not sure if the author reading it herself was what made it fall flat for me or if I just didn't like her writing. The topic was interesting but her writing didn't compell me to keep listening- I only finished it because I had to. First off the beginning was extremely boring and should have been edited better. The history lesson was great but the repetitive descriptions of child's play was snooze worthy. The horrific experience of her mother at the hands of the soldiers was not infused with the emotion that it must have generated. There is no passion in her writing and it was hard to believe that she is such a successful journalist. The only 2 people in the book I felt any sympathy for was her mom and of course her adopted sister Eunis. Helene had a privileged childhood and became a privileged American. Despite the tragedy of her family she survived and thrived and I really wanted to connect with her, however her writing didnt allow it to happen.
8 of 9 people found this review helpful
By Gregory Han on 01-25-10
Reader made this book for me.
Helene Cooper has basically written an autobiography set in Liberia. Her voice, especially when she uses Liberian English, is wonderful. This book covers history of Liberia, which is little known to most Americans. She is a journalist and perhaps that is why the words flow so smoothly. I highly recommend this as a book more enjoyable to listen to than to read just to fall under the spell of her cadence.
2 of 2 people found this review helpful