"Like a thumbprint, a heartprint is unique. Life experiences, victories, struggles, and wounds are their ridges and valleys. Unlike footprints, swept away as a fading memory, they endure and connect across generations and cultures. Africa lures its people back. A call, dampened by the busyness of American life, never disappears. It still whispers and beckons to me in the quiet."
—Cinda Adams Brooks
In 2004, bullets are starting to fly near the Uganda town where the author's twin sister, Linda, has lived with her husband and four children for decades as missionaries. She decides to send a compelling message to Brooks, in Texas:
We quit traveling overland to Kampala because of the dangers on the road. Now we feel that trouble is brewing too close to home. It is time to leave. I want you to experience this mysterious place before we go; it tops any place we have ever lived. We will run, rock climb, join Byron in his walking ministry, and do surgery at the hospital. Just come play with me in Africa.
With much anticipation and some foreboding, Brooks and her husband safely make their passage to Africa. In the midst of the joyous reunion between the sisters and their families, Linda's daughter, Jessica, asks, "Mom, what was it like when you and Nuna [their endearing name for Cinda] came to Africa when you were little girls?"
In answer, the author slides us back four decades to Seminole, Texas. One evening in the 1960s, John and Martha Adams called their five children—Cinda and Linda, 4, Chipper, 2, and older brothers Jim and Steve—to gather for a family meeting. The Adams told their children that they were selling their medical clinic in Texas. Within the year, the family would move to rural West Africa as missionaries to live in a hospital compound in Tanzania.
The author then weaves together side-by-side stories of two different Africas. The first is the peaceful Africa she and her family lived in, played in, thrived in, and which left unforgettable heartprints during their 1960s and 70s childhood. While her sister remained in Africa, the author returned to the US. The second is the story of the Africa of 2004, when this memoir opens, in which Adams and her family literally run for their lives for six miles to the nearby tiny airport, where a small plane waits to lift them up and away from warriors now periously close to their town.
I highly recommend Heartprints of Africa for many reasons: the story itself; the vibrancy and energy with which the story is told; and the way the richly developed characters all come together in a sweet immersion for the reader into the culture, the people, and the place, as well as the history—of Africa. Another wonderful plus for me was the time spent in the company of the extraordinary, faith-filled, and happy Adams family. Heartprints of Africa is one of those books that one loves to discover: a book one does not want to put down.
Cinda Adams Brooks grew up with her identical twin, Linda, and three brothers in East Africa where their parents served as medical missionaries. Her nursing, health education, and law enforcement careers combined for a rich twenty-year career teaching fitness, wellness, defensive tactics, and survival at the Texas Game Warden Training Academy. She currently pursues her mission—to unleash the champion in people—through her volunteer work in the Discovery Program and her connections with people that cross her path. Brooks lives near Austin, Texas, with her husband, Stanley, and Rhodesian ridgeback puppy, Buddy.
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