"House at Sugar Beach" by Helene Cooper

by wag.mado@evpl on Tuesday, October 7 2008, 12:41pm. Viewed 1,080 times.

I just finished one of those books that will stay with me for a long while. Helene Cooper's memoir, The House at Sugar Beach: in Search of a Lost African Childhood is remarkable and haunting. Her journalistic expertise opens the reader up to a privileged Liberian childhood, which ended in 1980 when she turned 14. The coup took place and the civil war began at a horrific cost to all of Liberia. Cooper, her mother, and sister fled their beloved country, leaving behind much bloodshed and many relatives - including an adopted sister.

This tale, although personal, is historical. Cooper sets the stage by relating how Liberia was settled by her ancestors, who were freed American slaves. It's filled with many vivid images of a pre-revolutionary lifestyle that was full of "American" possessions, humor, and close family ties.  It all ended with post-war bloodshed, heartache, misery and poverty for Liberians. The book ends with Cooper's revealing return to her homeland, in search of the adopted sister she left behind.

I listened to this book on CD and would highly recommend the book in audio format. Helene Cooper narrates the book herself, at times speaking Liberian English ("Congo" style) - making the story come to life. I will be looking for more from the gifted Helene Cooper in the future.

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