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Somebody's Heart Is Burning: A Woman…
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Somebody's Heart Is Burning: A Woman Wanderer in Africa (edition 2003)

by Tanya Shaffer

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592285,486 (3.5)2
Member:gregvogl
Title:Somebody's Heart Is Burning: A Woman Wanderer in Africa
Authors:Tanya Shaffer
Info:Vintage (2003), Edition: Vintage Departures ed, Paperback, 324 pages
Collections:Your library
Rating:***
Tags:africa, Ghana, travel

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Somebody's Heart Is Burning: A Woman Wanderer in Africa by Tanya Shaffer

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Title: Somebody's Heart is Burning: A Woman Wanderer in Africa
Author: Tanya Shaffer
Publisher: Vintage
Year: 2003
332 pages

I enjoyed this memoir of travel in Africa much more than I initially thought I would. I was worried that Shaffer was going to complain about her emotional conflicts about her boyfriend the whole time. While this is as noble a topic as any, it wasn't what I hope for in a travelogue. Though the boyfriend is a recurring theme, he serves less as an object of rumination (though I'm sure she ruminated) and more as a vehicle for the people Shaffer encounters to express their opinions about her decision making and values. The book is a series of vignette-like chapters, many of which hold together quite well and are both interesting and poignant. While some of Shaffer's choices could serve as cautionary tales for travelers, most of the outcomes are at worst benign. This could be paired with Gilman's [b:Undress Me in the Temple of Heaven|4757303|Undress Me in the Temple of Heaven|Susan Jane Gilman|http://photo.goodreads.com/books/1255603235s/4757303.jpg|4822089] for an interesting class or book club discussion. ( )
  OshoOsho | Mar 30, 2013 |
I winced when I read the opening line of Somebody's Heart is Burning. "It's my life, and I'll run from it if I want." It seemed to promise cheesiness and my least favorite travel writing cliche: a plucky but confused female traveler trying to cast herself as a heroine in a chick lit novel. I kept worrying through the first chapter, which is mostly about writer Tonya Shaffer's faltering relationship. But, within 20 pages, the book had changed. Shaffer recognizes that good writers focus on the people and places they encounter, not on their own personal stories. Most of the book is about the fascinating characters Shaffer meets through her year-long excursion through Africa. A few of the people she profiles are fellow travelers, but most are the ordinary Africans who fed and sheltered her out of simple hospitality. Without over-analyzing or sermonizing, Shaffer chronicles the culture clashes she experienced, the poverty she witnessed and the spirit of dozens of people living through what we would consider great hardship. Her prose is plain and easy to read and her narrator leaves plenty of room for readers to analyze the cultural and economic dilemmas described in the book. What emerges is a series of simple but memorable stories that leave a clear snapshot of what life is really like in Africa. My only complaint is the slightly lackluster writing style, but it didn't affect the readability of the book. ( )
1 vote cestovatela | Oct 3, 2007 |
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The author describes the year she spent traveling in Africa, recounting the mixture of African and North American cultures as she survives a boat trip to Timbuktu and romance in Burkina Faso.

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