With plans to visit Botswana, I decided to read a book set there. This lush tapestry of a novel weaves together Botswana’s vibrant beauty with the turmoil of apartheid’s regime. I was glad I knew a bit about Botswana’s wildlife and culture – it made the narrative that much more vivid.
Isaac is on his way to becoming one of South Africa’s only black doctors when he is forced to flee the country. In Botswana, he meets Alice, an American anthropologist working for the government on land use policy. Alice offers Isaac a gardening job, and, though they spend most of the book apart, their lives are inextricably connected. Both wrestle with the meaning of home, safety, freedom, justice, and love. Both simply want to work hard and build good lives, despite a cruel and unpredictable world that can overpower one person in an instant.
Morse writes with emotional sensitivity and surprising metaphors, emphasizing humanity’s connection to a profound universal knowing. She excels at characterization. Like a playwright, she offers simple descriptions of even minor characters that communicate a massive amount of their background and motivation. Every page propels you forward, laden with the enormity of what’s at stake politically, environmentally, culturally, and in Isaac’s and Alice’s lives. Even bone-tired, I couldn’t put it down.
The 214 in 2014 series chronicles every book I read in 2014. Each review contains exactly 214 words, because 2014 words is too long and 2014 characters is too dang short. And yes, this review is backlogged from 2014.
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