When Rossandra White invited me into her world through her memoir, Love You Bye: Holding Fast, Letting Go and Then There's the Dog, I was quickly engrossed in the drama playing out in her southern California home. Surprisingly, I next found myself on the continent of Africa, exploring the many facets to her story. Not only does she tell the stories of her childhood vividly, she places that time in the historical context of apartheid and the changing politics of the places she lived.
Can you imagine her mother, father and brother traveling in their Ford in the 1960's for a three month trip through the East African bush with their pet African Gray parrot along for the ride? As the narrative of her family unfolded, I was intrigued with her unique story, which housed several universal themes such as longing for love, and the desire to be independent and free while dealing with unexpected changes.
The first picture she paints is of a cozy tropical artist abode where she and her surfer-husband have lived with two Staffordshire terriers. Larry is portrayed as a free-spirited surfer who brings his own issues into the relationship. Because of her easy writing style, I felt that I was witnessing the struggles of this couple as though I was their next-door neighbor. Her intimate disclosures made me care about her story, as she shared details of her vulnerability and weaknesses as well as her spunkiness.
On p. 122 she writes: "I was reminded once again why I loved Africa: the way it pulsed with life, raw, exuberant, astonishing, unpredictable, and how much it was a part of me." I appreciate the way Africa comes through as a part of her, and she evokes some strong emotions in me, too. I cried with her as her story unraveled and she revealed her raw places of hurt. For a story with many unexpected twists and turns, it left me uplifted in the end.
There was something so compelling that kept me reading this book that I tucked it in my bag when I left for my vacation in the mountains this summer. If you are looking for an author who expresses raw feelings with which we might identify and an exuberance apparent through her words, this book will appeal to you.
Read an excerpt from this book.
Rossandra White has been working on her craft of writing since 1992 after years of journaling and wisdom-seeking. Her first published efforts were two novels, Monkey's Wedding and Mine Dances. This book is her first memoir. She blogs, writes stories and says she is "backing into" her memoir about Africa. She lives in Laguna Beach with her Staffie dogs. Visit her website.
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