Once upon a time, and you may remember this if you've been with me a while, before BBAW, I used to, you know, actually review a book from time to time. First Comes Love, Then Comes Malaria has been patiently waiting on my desk for an opportune time that just hasn't come. Its very presence there has been causing me a good deal of guilt and strife. So much guilt, in fact, that I found myself thinking the other morning in the shower about reviewing it, and then I began writing, in the confines of my barely awake mind, what I considered to be an excellent review. Now, I consider myself to be a great multi-tasker, but writing reviews in the shower simply poses some logistical difficulties that are rather impossible to overcome, which is why I'm sitting here now with barely an inkling left in my memory of what it was that I was going to say in my fantastic "barely awake mind review" which means we'll have to settle for this mediocre barely awake blog review.
Eve's joining of the Peace Corps was a long time coming. When the "I'll-be-joining-the-Peace-Corps" line begins to get a little thin, she knows it's time to finally go through with it. She's got one problem, though. She seems to be falling for her clean cut, "epitome of a good guy" Peace Corps recruiter, John. As her departure date nears, she wants less and less to follow through with her pledge to spend two years in a developing nation and more and more to stay with her one true love. Unfortunately, scrapping the Peace Corps probably means scrapping her relationship with John anyway, so it's off to Ecuador for Eve. Once there, she finds the experience to be even less rewarding than she expected as she has more than a little difficulty convincing people to actually put her to work. Finally, she finds a niche taking homeless boys back to their families, but soon after an unexpected tragedy reveals a secret from her past that has her returning to states and her future husband.
The meat of this book, though, is when John takes a job with CARE in Uganda. Here Eve's committment is put to the test as she is forced to take a chance on another developing country and adjust to life in a rural Ugandan outpost noted for its excess of guerilla activity. Here Eve will learn that compared to everyone else she is rich, gigantic bugs are a daily reality, and malaria is much easier to come by than a telephone.
Brown-Waite has an easy, conversational writing style that invites us into a very troubled African nation without simply focusing on the trouble. Brown-Waite truly brings the people of Uganda to life for her readers. Her stories are often laugh out loud funny and point out the quirks and celebrate the culture of a nation, that though struggling, seems to be filled with an unexpectedly optimistic, joyful people. Unlike many memoirs of Africa, Brown-Waite's manages to reveal the many issues facing Uganda without marinating us in a dark, dismal reflection on the "unsolveable" problems of a nation afflicted with extreme poverty and disease.
First Comes Love, Then Comes Malaria is a captivating and heartfelt love story of how Eve Brown-Waite fell first for a man and then for a nation. Brown-Waite's journey from inept bush housewife looking for a purpose to a thriving expat with a passion for this rather backward Ugandan community was a pleasure to read. Here's hoping that she is already busy writing about her adventures in Uzbekistan and beyond, as I would gladly go along for the ride!