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The Dragons, the Giant, the Women: A Memoir

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An engrossing memoir of escaping the First Liberian Civil War and building a life in the United States. When Wayétu Moore turns five years old, her father and grandmother throw her a big birthday party at their home in Monrovia, Liberia, but all she can think about is how much she misses her mother, who is working and studying in faraway New York. Before she gets the reunio An engrossing memoir of escaping the First Liberian Civil War and building a life in the United States. When Wayétu Moore turns five years old, her father and grandmother throw her a big birthday party at their home in Monrovia, Liberia, but all she can think about is how much she misses her mother, who is working and studying in faraway New York. Before she gets the reunion her father promised her, war breaks out in Liberia. The family is forced to flee their home on foot, walking and hiding for three weeks until they arrive in the village of Lai. Finally, a rebel soldier smuggles them across the border to Sierra Leone, reuniting the family and setting them off on yet another journey, this time to the United States. Spanning this harrowing journey in Moore’s early childhood, her years adjusting to life in Texas as a black woman and an immigrant, and her eventual return to Liberia, The Dragons, the Giant, the Women is a deeply moving story of the search for home in the midst of upheaval. Moore has a novelist’s eye for suspense and emotional depth, and this unforgettable memoir is full of imaginative, lyrical flights and lush prose. In capturing both the hazy magic and the stark realities of what is becoming an increasingly pervasive experience, Moore shines a light on the great political and personal forces that continue to affect many migrants around the world, and calls us all to acknowledge the tenacious power of love and family.


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An engrossing memoir of escaping the First Liberian Civil War and building a life in the United States. When Wayétu Moore turns five years old, her father and grandmother throw her a big birthday party at their home in Monrovia, Liberia, but all she can think about is how much she misses her mother, who is working and studying in faraway New York. Before she gets the reunio An engrossing memoir of escaping the First Liberian Civil War and building a life in the United States. When Wayétu Moore turns five years old, her father and grandmother throw her a big birthday party at their home in Monrovia, Liberia, but all she can think about is how much she misses her mother, who is working and studying in faraway New York. Before she gets the reunion her father promised her, war breaks out in Liberia. The family is forced to flee their home on foot, walking and hiding for three weeks until they arrive in the village of Lai. Finally, a rebel soldier smuggles them across the border to Sierra Leone, reuniting the family and setting them off on yet another journey, this time to the United States. Spanning this harrowing journey in Moore’s early childhood, her years adjusting to life in Texas as a black woman and an immigrant, and her eventual return to Liberia, The Dragons, the Giant, the Women is a deeply moving story of the search for home in the midst of upheaval. Moore has a novelist’s eye for suspense and emotional depth, and this unforgettable memoir is full of imaginative, lyrical flights and lush prose. In capturing both the hazy magic and the stark realities of what is becoming an increasingly pervasive experience, Moore shines a light on the great political and personal forces that continue to affect many migrants around the world, and calls us all to acknowledge the tenacious power of love and family.

30 review for The Dragons, the Giant, the Women: A Memoir

  1. 4 out of 5

    Michael

    a moving memoir of immigrating to the United States, in the wake of the outbreak of the First Liberian Civil War. the prose is lyrical, and the structure’s breathtaking. Moore begins by recollecting her childhood memories of the war and forced migration, and ends by imagining how her mother, a grad student in America, experienced the conflict as an immigrant far removed from her family and country of origin. in the middle Moore recounts her coming of age in America and her adulthood quest to rec a moving memoir of immigrating to the United States, in the wake of the outbreak of the First Liberian Civil War. the prose is lyrical, and the structure’s breathtaking. Moore begins by recollecting her childhood memories of the war and forced migration, and ends by imagining how her mother, a grad student in America, experienced the conflict as an immigrant far removed from her family and country of origin. in the middle Moore recounts her coming of age in America and her adulthood quest to reconnect with her past and make sense of what happened during her childhood.

  2. 5 out of 5

    luce

    The Dragons, the Giant, the Women is a deeply heartfelt and lyrical memoir. Wayétu Moore's luminous prose conveys the horrors of the First Liberian Civil War through the uncomprehending eyes of a child. At the age five Moore 's existence is irrevocably altered. Her family is forced to flee their home in Monrovia. Her father tries to shield his daughters from the violence and death they encounter on the road to 'safety' (for example he tells them that the sound they keep hearing—gunfire—is made b The Dragons, the Giant, the Women is a deeply heartfelt and lyrical memoir. Wayétu Moore's luminous prose conveys the horrors of the First Liberian Civil War through the uncomprehending eyes of a child. At the age five Moore 's existence is irrevocably altered. Her family is forced to flee their home in Monrovia. Her father tries to shield his daughters from the violence and death they encounter on the road to 'safety' (for example he tells them that the sound they keep hearing—gunfire—is made by drums, or that the dead people on the ground are 'sleeping'). While Moore doesn't shy away from the bloodshed caused by this civil war, she renders these events as she experienced them, when she was not fully aware of what was truly happening. She weaves a fairy-tale of sorts, with dragons (those who played a prominent role in the civil war), a giant (her father, her protector), and the women (her mother, a young rebel girl) whose acts of bravery ensured the safety of Moore and her sisters. I was moved by the way in which Moore's family stayed united as their world crumbled. After Moore’s mother (who had been studying in New York and therefore was cut off from her husband and children after the war broke out) finds a rebel soldier who could smuggle them across the border to Sierra Leone, the Moore family move to America. In recounting her childhood Moore details the way in which she was made fully aware of her status of 'outsider' in America. Racism, colourism, a sense of disconnect towards a culture that treats you as other, all of these things make Moore feel like she doesn't belong. What she witnessed as a child too, haunts her. In search for answers she flies back to Liberia. The narrative shifts then to her mother's perspective and Moore perfectly captures a mother's voice. The Dragons, the Giant, the Women details Moore's painful and unresolved past. Yet, however sobering her story is, readers are bound to be dazzled by the lore that shapes her tale. Moore navigates the aftermath of Liberia's civil war, her family's migration to the U.S., her own relationship towards Liberia and her sense of displacement. This is a beautifully written and powerful story, one that recounts a family's arduous journey to safety, the separation and losses they experience, and the love and courage that brings them back together. LitHub has recently published an interview with Wayétu Moore in which she discusses this memoir: Wayétu Moore on What It Means to Tell “Our Story”. Read more reviews on my blog / / / View all my reviews on Goodreads ARC provided by NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

  3. 4 out of 5

    BookOfCinz

    Liberia went through its first Civil War from 1989 to 1966, during that period over 250,000 were killed and numerous families displaced and destroyed. The civil war was long and was devastating for many Liberians, including Wayteu Moore and her family. In The Dragons, The Giant, The Women: A Memoir is Moore’s second novel and first memoir that details in a very rich and moving way how the Liberian Civil war affected the trajectory of her family and how their lives were changed. The memoir open Liberia went through its first Civil War from 1989 to 1966, during that period over 250,000 were killed and numerous families displaced and destroyed. The civil war was long and was devastating for many Liberians, including Wayteu Moore and her family. In The Dragons, The Giant, The Women: A Memoir is Moore’s second novel and first memoir that details in a very rich and moving way how the Liberian Civil war affected the trajectory of her family and how their lives were changed. The memoir opens on Wayetus Moore’s fifth birthday celebration. She is at home in Monrovia, Liberia with her siblings, father, grandmother and extended family. Her mother is not present for the celebrations because she is studying on a scholarship in New York. In the middle of the celebration war breaks out and the family is forced to flee without any warning. They leave on foot with a bag each, walking and hiding until their reached the village of Lai. The three week journey is grueling, heart breaking, and captured so vividly in Moore’s writing. The family arrives in Lai, and waiting their next move. Weeks into their stay at Lai a rebel solider shows up to let Wayetu know her mom sent for them family and she will be smuggling them across the border into Sierra Leone. While a lot of the book surrounds Wayetu’s experience in the civil war, how being displaced affect her, how to this present day it still affects her- the book is also way more than that. It gives insights into mother-daughter relationship, living like an immigrant and what is it like for a black woman growing up in a country that doesn’t value the blackness of her skin. I absolutely enjoyed this memoir. I read, loved and was blown away by Moore’s She Would Be King so I was super excited to see that she would be releasing a Memoir because I STAN! Nothing could prepare me for how beautiful this memoir was, I wanted sooooo much more. Moore’s writing is so personal, so unforgettable, so beautiful and deeply nuanced. To go through this trauma, I cannot being to imagine, but how Moore explored it in her memoir was beautiful. You NEED to read this!

  4. 4 out of 5

    Britta Böhler

    Nope, this was not for me. I didn't like the writing & found the structure rather messy. And it often felt as if the author didn't quite know what she wanted to say. Nope, this was not for me. I didn't like the writing & found the structure rather messy. And it often felt as if the author didn't quite know what she wanted to say.

  5. 4 out of 5

    aPriL does feral sometimes

    ‘The Dragons, the Giant, the Women’ by Wayétu Moor is a memoir of the author’s escape from Liberia’s first terrible civil war of “dragons” - Samuel Doe, Charles Taylor and Prince Johnson - and about her life as a recovering immigrant in a racialized America. She has written a literary autobiography, so it isn’t a straightforwardly written story of remembrance but rather one of short-story-like, lyrical sketches. It’s structure is more like a literary novel with a timeline that jumps forward and ‘The Dragons, the Giant, the Women’ by Wayétu Moor is a memoir of the author’s escape from Liberia’s first terrible civil war of “dragons” - Samuel Doe, Charles Taylor and Prince Johnson - and about her life as a recovering immigrant in a racialized America. She has written a literary autobiography, so it isn’t a straightforwardly written story of remembrance but rather one of short-story-like, lyrical sketches. It’s structure is more like a literary novel with a timeline that jumps forward and back in time. The book is an amazing history of courage by both Wayétu’s parents and a teenage soldier woman who acted as a guide. The first narrator is the author, in a first-person voice as a little girl. She then jumps to her adult life as a college student in New York City. One part of the book is a third-person narration by Mam of what Mam, Wayétu’s mother, did to rescue her husband and children. Wayétu has a journey as well - one of coming to terms with her sorrow for losing the Liberia of her childhood and growing up as a foreigner in America. In 1990 the main Liberian city of Monrovia was invaded by Prince Johnson. Wayétu was five years old when she and her sisters, three-year-old K and Wi, six years old, went on a forced march on foot for three weeks through dangerous African country roads trying to avoid murderous teen soldiers high on drugs. She couldn’t understand what was happening, and her father protected her with gentle lies of misdirection. She was with her grandmother, Ol’ Ma, and her father, “the Giant”. They were escaping their house and the war in Monrovia, hoping to get to a Vai tribal village called Lai, Ol Ma’s original home before she married Ol’ Pa. Mam, their mother, was in America attending university. The walkathon journey was a nightmare for the author, and she needed to enter therapy for treatment of the nightmares. Her parents returned to Liberia after staying for a time in Texas, while Wayétu, an Americanized immigrant who was strange to both Black and White Americans, yearned to feel at home somewhere again as she did as a child in Liberia. She returns to Liberia to see her parents and to try to find the guide who had helped them. The book is safe to read for sensitive readers. She does not go into the politics or wars of Liberia. Those of you who are curious to read more, I have a Wikipedia link below. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/First_L... Since I remember reading the news stories of the Liberian civil wars in American newspapers when the wars were happening, I can add the information that these Liberian Dragon warlords were total monsters. No age was too young or human too weak to not be a toy for torture and abuse. Children fought in the armies of the warlords as soldiers. These children were kidnapped from the arms of village families and forced to do battle, murders and rapes while drunk or high. The author obviously does not want this story to be the one of her memoir. The author’s choosing to intentionally lean into a stylistically poetic, MFA-schooled literary version of her history did not engage me. However, I certainly wish her all the best. The sufferings of Liberians were enormous during those decades from which they have yet to recover.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Kerry

    A memoir I was interested to read as it had been one of the books on last year's BookTube prize list that made it to the final rounds. It is the story of a young girl's early life told basically in three parts. The Dragons--from a child's viewpoint as her family is fleeing the civil war in Liberia, The Giant--her immigration to the U.S. with her family and living in Texas and the Women--recounting her return to Liberia and the search for a woman who was instrumental in helping her family flee Li A memoir I was interested to read as it had been one of the books on last year's BookTube prize list that made it to the final rounds. It is the story of a young girl's early life told basically in three parts. The Dragons--from a child's viewpoint as her family is fleeing the civil war in Liberia, The Giant--her immigration to the U.S. with her family and living in Texas and the Women--recounting her return to Liberia and the search for a woman who was instrumental in helping her family flee Liberia. Over all I really found this informative about this young woman's journey. I know little of the Ivory Coast of Africa so it did lead me to research more about the conflict in Liberia and look at lots of pictures of this part of the world. The writing was good though in audio the early children view point got annoying at times with much whining about the walk and hardships. My favorite part was the later chapters of the book especially the end which the author does a great job of giving an upward/positive spin. I will say I found the structure a little odd for a memoir as the author changes point of view at times and becomes her mother or father, speaking not OF them but AS them. I did not have the print book so perhaps the print gave some visual indication in change of type that the author was speaking as a different family member? So in all I have mixed feelings about the book. 3.5 stars. The structure and jumps in time made for a confusing read at times. Not a great audio might be better in print. Best part was learning more about this part of the world.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Jyotsna

    Actual Rating: 4.9 stars There is a weight that builds on shoulders when one leaves home. The longer a person stays away, the heavier the burden of displacement. Reduced to being refugees because of the Liberian civil war, the well-to-do Moore family is displaced and living under the fear of being killed by the rebel forces. The book is about their escape to safety. A very relevant book in today's times that talks about the tension surrounding the refugee crisis. The reason why it is not full 5 Actual Rating: 4.9 stars There is a weight that builds on shoulders when one leaves home. The longer a person stays away, the heavier the burden of displacement. Reduced to being refugees because of the Liberian civil war, the well-to-do Moore family is displaced and living under the fear of being killed by the rebel forces. The book is about their escape to safety. A very relevant book in today's times that talks about the tension surrounding the refugee crisis. The reason why it is not full 5 ⭐ is simply because of the chronological order of the book that can confuse readers or break the intense chain. Read for the Quarterfinals of the Booktube Prize 2021, this one made it to the Semifinals. Ranking - 2nd (out of 6 books) (For more insight, please watch the video on my YT channel)

  8. 5 out of 5

    Jaclyn

    “And there is was. His colossal being. His words pulling thunder from the sky. “Thank you, Daddy,” I said, my lips trembling in the silence. “For everything.” This was an absolutely breathtaking read. The memoir opens with Moore looking back on her memories as a five year old - vivid sensory descriptions of food and sounds and smells, dialogue shared between her and her family, all work to situate the reader to view the civil war and this early period in Moore’s life through the childhood-lens it “And there is was. His colossal being. His words pulling thunder from the sky. “Thank you, Daddy,” I said, my lips trembling in the silence. “For everything.” This was an absolutely breathtaking read. The memoir opens with Moore looking back on her memories as a five year old - vivid sensory descriptions of food and sounds and smells, dialogue shared between her and her family, all work to situate the reader to view the civil war and this early period in Moore’s life through the childhood-lens it was experienced through. Moore shares her experiences growing up as Black woman and an immigrant in Texas, and later as an adult studying and working in New York City - the racism and upheavals, and the power that the women in her life vested in her and that she drew on when she needed that inner strength the most. There is much to be said about this wonderful narrative - one aspect of the structure that I found particularly effective was the jumps in linearity. It allowed Moore to explore her own journey back to Liberia to find more about the rebel soldier that helped her family escape Liberia during the civil war, while taking the reader back through her life experiences too. It was masterfully unfurled and really connected the reader with the narrative being told. The quote shared above was just one of many incredibly powerful reflections Moore shares about her parents, her father (the “giant” referred to in the title) in this instance. Can not recommend this one highly enough! Many thanks to Graywolf for a review copy.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Sarah

    3.5 rounded up A page-turner of a memoir recounting the author's childhood in Liberia, where a civil war broke out in 1989 when she was 4 years old. Forced to escape her home in Monrovia with her father and two young siblings, they fled to the remote countryside to hide with relatives. Her mother was in the US studying at Columbia on a Fulbright scholarship, and made the difficult (although not for her) choice to return to Africa, travelling to neighbouring Sierra Leone to recruit an intermediary 3.5 rounded up A page-turner of a memoir recounting the author's childhood in Liberia, where a civil war broke out in 1989 when she was 4 years old. Forced to escape her home in Monrovia with her father and two young siblings, they fled to the remote countryside to hide with relatives. Her mother was in the US studying at Columbia on a Fulbright scholarship, and made the difficult (although not for her) choice to return to Africa, travelling to neighbouring Sierra Leone to recruit an intermediary to enter Liberia to search for her family. We also learn about Moore's experiences in the US, where she grew up in Houston and went on to live in NYC as an adult. I found this to be a lyrical and moving account of a child's experiences of war. I thought the inclusion of the latter chapters from her mother's first person perspective worked well too in concluding the story. Recommended. Thank you Netgalley and Pushkin Press for the advance copy, which was provided in exchange for an honest review.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Oyinda

    This was so well done and unlike any memoir I've ever read. It is written by an African person, and I love reading memoirs by African writers because I love learning about the history of different countries and the real life effect on children and families. This memoir also explored immigration to the US, and living away from your family (her mother's POV). The inclusion of her mother's POV was also such a masterstroke. This was so well done and unlike any memoir I've ever read. It is written by an African person, and I love reading memoirs by African writers because I love learning about the history of different countries and the real life effect on children and families. This memoir also explored immigration to the US, and living away from your family (her mother's POV). The inclusion of her mother's POV was also such a masterstroke.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Karen Ashmore

    This book reminded me a bit of Americanah. Set in Liberia instead of Nigeria, it traces her childhood during the Liberian civil war, coming of age in America, and return to her birth country as an adult. We learned about tribalism in Liberia. Tutu and her family flee their home on foot during Charles Taylor’s rebel army challenge to President Samuel Doe. This part was different because it was written through a child’s eyes (she was five when this happened). We also learned once her family escaped This book reminded me a bit of Americanah. Set in Liberia instead of Nigeria, it traces her childhood during the Liberian civil war, coming of age in America, and return to her birth country as an adult. We learned about tribalism in Liberia. Tutu and her family flee their home on foot during Charles Taylor’s rebel army challenge to President Samuel Doe. This part was different because it was written through a child’s eyes (she was five when this happened). We also learned once her family escaped how Tutu dealt with racism in America, but this was rather superficially addressed. By far the best part was the flashback climactic finale how their brave mother Mam was able to engineer a dramatic rescue of her family from wartorn Liberia. It was not as exquisitely written as Americanah (Chimamanda is a truly gifted writer) and it is a memoir instead of fiction. But West African women authors are awesome.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Simone

    I read She Would Be King at the start of the year and upon finishing it I immediately wanted to learn more about Wayetu Moore and her inspiration. When I learned that SWBK was partially inspired by Moore’s own experience fleeing Liberia during the civil war and that she had a memoir coming out surrounding these events I couldn’t wait to read it. The Dragons, The Giant , The Women is an incredible memoir and a beautiful display of storytelling. Moore possesses the unique ability to write nonfictio I read She Would Be King at the start of the year and upon finishing it I immediately wanted to learn more about Wayetu Moore and her inspiration. When I learned that SWBK was partially inspired by Moore’s own experience fleeing Liberia during the civil war and that she had a memoir coming out surrounding these events I couldn’t wait to read it. The Dragons, The Giant , The Women is an incredible memoir and a beautiful display of storytelling. Moore possesses the unique ability to write nonfiction in a way that reads like fiction and is immediately accessible to the reader. What I loved most about this memoir is the way that Moore writes from the perspective of herself at the age she experienced these events. Because of this there is a childlike wonder and innocence to the recounting which serves to further highlight the devastations of war. This memoir also addresses the topics of the strength of familia love, the personal & external forces affecting migrants and refugees, the experience of integrating into a new culture, the lasting effects of trauma, and the experience of being a Black women in a country that doesn’t value you. All of this was addressed with such poise and care. I highly recommend this memoir for all these reasons and many more.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Brian Wraight

    A deeply moving, lovingly crafted, and unique memoir. Moore makes some brilliant creative choices with structure, voice, and point of view.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Darkowaa

    4.5 stars Man... I didn't expect to cry at the end. Women are such essential beings. Liberian women in particular, are a special kind. May you be a Satta, in this world. *full review on africanbookaddict.com, soon. 4.5 stars Man... I didn't expect to cry at the end. Women are such essential beings. Liberian women in particular, are a special kind. May you be a Satta, in this world. *full review on africanbookaddict.com, soon.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Elena L.

    Skin color was king - king above nationality, king above life stories, and, yes, even king above Christ Moore's memoir is moving, beautiful yet heartbreaking. From Liberian Civil War to immigration to America, we are transported into her life and the author drives us through a journey filled with Liberian culture. I was able to feel the effect of war trauma during Moore's childhood on her adulthood; also the hardships and racism that Moore suffered while trying to blend in the American culture/ Skin color was king - king above nationality, king above life stories, and, yes, even king above Christ Moore's memoir is moving, beautiful yet heartbreaking. From Liberian Civil War to immigration to America, we are transported into her life and the author drives us through a journey filled with Liberian culture. I was able to feel the effect of war trauma during Moore's childhood on her adulthood; also the hardships and racism that Moore suffered while trying to blend in the American culture/society and adjust to a new life. Once she was comfortable with her foreign identity, she started to struggle with the Liberian heritage. The subject of race is thoroughly explored in this memoir, as well as themes of war, family strength, resilience, mother-daughter relationship, cultural identity and immigrant's life. The expressive and lavish language made her experiences so vivid that I could relate on a personal level. In addition, I was absorbed in a way that it felt like I was reading fiction. Read this memoir! [ I received an ARC from the publisher in exchange for an honest review ]

  16. 4 out of 5

    Pretty_x_bookish

    One of the best memoirs I have ever read. Wayetu Moore writes with a lyricism and descriptive capacity that is just unreal...her writing breathes so much life into this story. Would absolutely recommend.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Susan Henderson

    This memoir is not only a compelling story of a young girl fleeing civil war in Liberia, but it is also a work of art. Start with the title, the way young Wayétu, in part due to her father's desire to guard his children's innocence, experienced the war as a fairy tale, complete with dragons, a protective giant, and the thunder of drums as they ran. There is also a breathtaking level of thematic symmetry, both with the theme of running and also with the  search for the young rebel girl who helped This memoir is not only a compelling story of a young girl fleeing civil war in Liberia, but it is also a work of art. Start with the title, the way young Wayétu, in part due to her father's desire to guard his children's innocence, experienced the war as a fairy tale, complete with dragons, a protective giant, and the thunder of drums as they ran. There is also a breathtaking level of thematic symmetry, both with the theme of running and also with the  search for the young rebel girl who helped reunite her family. There is the boldness of risky but, ultimately, perfect choices--the author taking on her mother's voice to narrate a crucial piece of family history; the trust that adventures in dating earned their place in this book as much as war. And then there is the beauty of knowing which moments to capture, which moments to slow. I want so badly to quote the prose used to describe her father's reaction to a photo, but it is worth being surprised by the goosebumps of it. The Dragons, the Giant, the Women is an emotional, magical, and revolutionary story of a woman learning to own the fullness of her story, her history, and her power.  

  18. 4 out of 5

    Carolien

    An ordinary family caught up in a civil war. The author was 5 years old at the time when she had to flee Monrovia with her father, grandmother and sisters (6 and 4 years old). It is a tale of an ordinary family whose lives are completely disrupted. I wonder if my family would be able to survive an event like this which requires them to flee for miles on foot into farmland and jungles dodging guns. Told from her own perspective as well as her mother's who was in the United States at the time and An ordinary family caught up in a civil war. The author was 5 years old at the time when she had to flee Monrovia with her father, grandmother and sisters (6 and 4 years old). It is a tale of an ordinary family whose lives are completely disrupted. I wonder if my family would be able to survive an event like this which requires them to flee for miles on foot into farmland and jungles dodging guns. Told from her own perspective as well as her mother's who was in the United States at the time and came to find them. Beautifully written, highly recommend.

  19. 5 out of 5

    Fanna

    June 2, 2020: A very happy release day to this! A deeply moving memoir of a black woman immigrant who escapes the Liberian Civil War and builds a life in the United States. Political themes that dip into power of family and love. Hoping to read it soon. June 2, 2020: A very happy release day to this! A deeply moving memoir of a black woman immigrant who escapes the Liberian Civil War and builds a life in the United States. Political themes that dip into power of family and love. Hoping to read it soon.

  20. 4 out of 5

    Wendy P

    Easily one of the best books I’ve read in a long time. Moore details her families escape from rebel forces in Liberia and her life in America. So much sadness but also so much strength amongst the Liberian people.

  21. 4 out of 5

    Robert Sheard

    This is the story of Moore's family in Liberia. Her mother went to the USA to study and while she's there, war breaks out in Liberia. The family endures a harrowing escape from their home village, and then months of hiding in the village of Lai. Moore's mother returns from the USA to smuggle her family across the border into Sierra Leone, with the help of a female rebel soldier. And then it's also the story of Moore's youth, growing up in Texas and making a return visit to Liberia as an adult. Th This is the story of Moore's family in Liberia. Her mother went to the USA to study and while she's there, war breaks out in Liberia. The family endures a harrowing escape from their home village, and then months of hiding in the village of Lai. Moore's mother returns from the USA to smuggle her family across the border into Sierra Leone, with the help of a female rebel soldier. And then it's also the story of Moore's youth, growing up in Texas and making a return visit to Liberia as an adult. The story's a fascinating one, but it's told out of chronological order, and one part is narrated from her mother's point of view. I found the fractured chronology and the shifting point of view a little jarring, but overall, it's a compelling memoir. Unfortunately, I cannot recommend the audiobook version. The reader makes the young girls so incredibly whiny that one could lose sympathy for their plight. I abandoned the audio relatively early on and finished with text alone.

  22. 5 out of 5

    Eghosasere

    This was so beautiful 😭😭 highly recommend

  23. 5 out of 5

    Emily Grace

    But there were things I went into the world not knowing. We did not talk about what to do when a boy was unkind, in words or actions, breaking my heart. I was lousy in the ways of healing. Mam had one true love in a country of women like her, whose sun took turns resting on their deep, dark skin. My true loves in our new country, by either inheritance or indoctrination, were taught that black women were the least among them. Loving me was an act of resistance, though many. did not know it. An But there were things I went into the world not knowing. We did not talk about what to do when a boy was unkind, in words or actions, breaking my heart. I was lousy in the ways of healing. Mam had one true love in a country of women like her, whose sun took turns resting on their deep, dark skin. My true loves in our new country, by either inheritance or indoctrination, were taught that black women were the least among them. Loving me was an act of resistance, though many. did not know it. And Mam could not understand this feeling, the heaviness of it, to be loved as resistance, as an exception to a rule. To fight to be seen in love throughout the resistance. This was my new country. I expected a moving story but was utterly blown away by the stunning prose and rich descriptive detail. Truly a beautiful book through and through. Memoirs are my favorite genre to read but also the hardest to review. Wayétu Moore's life, especially her early childhood, is as fascinating as it is appalling. Surrounded at such at young age by violence and upheaval and so little capacity to comprehend it. The writing structure was often malleable, shifting from part to part and bending to assist the themes. This was particularly effective in instilling the feelings of urgency and confusion in the reader. The author brilliantly executes the perspective of a small child adrift in a sea of violence. With allusion to Liberian folktales we can see how she as a child clung to familiar stories as a way to explain and understand her own new tumultuous position. I loved the inclusion of folktale in this memoir, in part because the folktales were new to me as a reader but also that it created a window through which you can see her own awe and terror at the world. Similarly, the parts of the book about her adulthood are written with honesty and frankness but also with the disorientation of an adult still grappling with a traumatic past and a present that continues to wound. Wayétu Moore, as a black woman and an immigrant to the United States gave me a perspective I have not often heard and was certainly educational to me, if also painful to hear how her experience has been so disparate from my own. On top of the author's use of structure, the prose throughout the entire book is just beautiful. The descriptions are sensory and unconventional, often combing things in metaphor I would never have associated but were nonetheless perfect for created a visceral reading experience. Of course, the story is worth reading in its own right. Wayétu has an incredible story to tell. One of family, loss, prejudice, love and war, in one's country and also within oneself. The Dragons, The Giant, The Women is a story of leaving, finding and returning home. An absolutely stunning book! Thank you to the publisher for providing this ARC in exchange for an honest review! All opinions are my own.

  24. 4 out of 5

    Becks

    This had some really interesting parts, but the overall structure was very odd to me. You can hear more of my thoughts in this BookTube Prize Semifinals wrap up: https://youtu.be/GKH6y6n9V7k This had some really interesting parts, but the overall structure was very odd to me. You can hear more of my thoughts in this BookTube Prize Semifinals wrap up: https://youtu.be/GKH6y6n9V7k

  25. 4 out of 5

    Kate

    "In the months after Mam left Liberia for New York, we talked to her every Sunday. She sounded the same to me then, though once or twice her voice disappeared while she spoke. I inhaled the heavy silence, hoping that some of her would seep through the phone so that I could lay my head against it." • Thoughts~ Not often is a first novel followed up with a memoir but Moore does a sensational job! • In The Dragons, The Giant, The Women Moore chronicles her families journey through escaping the Liberian "In the months after Mam left Liberia for New York, we talked to her every Sunday. She sounded the same to me then, though once or twice her voice disappeared while she spoke. I inhaled the heavy silence, hoping that some of her would seep through the phone so that I could lay my head against it." • Thoughts~ Not often is a first novel followed up with a memoir but Moore does a sensational job! • In The Dragons, The Giant, The Women Moore chronicles her families journey through escaping the Liberian Cival War to creating a life in America. Moore recounts her childhood in Liberia and in America. How at the tender age of five, living with her family, minus her mother, who she misses dearly is away in New York on a scholarship studying. War breaks out suddenly and they have to flee their home on foot. For three weeks they walk and hide until they reach the village of Lai. They wait there, figuring out their next move when a rebel soldier comes to them, telling them their mother has sent for them and they will be smuggled across the border. After they are across, Moore shares of life as a Black immigrant in America. How as an adult the aftermath of her harrowing childhood still lingers. This memoir is so rich, deep and moving. I absolutely loved it and look forward to rereading it! Moore is a talented writer. Her prose are stirring and beautiful. I highly reccomend this one! And I'm so glad @belletrist picked this for their July book everyone needs to read this! • Thank You to the publisher for sending me this book opinions are my own.

  26. 5 out of 5

    Lynn

    The author was five when a brutal civil war broke out in Liberia. She was living with her grandparents and two siblings. Her mother had traveled abroad for a college education in America. Liberia at the time of the war, was considered pretty well off in Africa and a place people went to find work. The war causes the family to flee to the Sierra Leone border to escape but the border is closed. They try to get word to Mam, their mother, in the USA to come rescue them. A very well written book.

  27. 5 out of 5

    Sandra

    I read a positive review of Wayétu Moore's memoir, The Dragons, The Giant, The Women, and I really wanted to support a local independent bookseller (I always do, but it was the beginning of the pandemic), so I bought this book, and finally read it. Moore, known as "Tutu" by her family, is Liberian; she's the same age as my youngest son, but has lived a very different life. She was born in 1985, and in 1990 the terrible civil war started, with Charles Taylor (such an unassuming name for such a mon I read a positive review of Wayétu Moore's memoir, The Dragons, The Giant, The Women, and I really wanted to support a local independent bookseller (I always do, but it was the beginning of the pandemic), so I bought this book, and finally read it. Moore, known as "Tutu" by her family, is Liberian; she's the same age as my youngest son, but has lived a very different life. She was born in 1985, and in 1990 the terrible civil war started, with Charles Taylor (such an unassuming name for such a monster) trying to wrest power from Samuel Doe, and forcing untold numbers of children into service, brutalizing them into subservience and then giving them weapons to do his bidding. Which was really terrible. It's impossible not to. understate it, or at least I believe this, as I've never experienced anything remotely similar. Moore's writing is not always easy to understand; in fact, about 1/3 of the way through I went back and re-read the first few chapters. I'm not sure I ever did fully understand the connection of Doe and Taylor with Hawa Undu, a mythological character, a dragon (I think), who young Tutu, only 5 years old when most of the events in the book took place, conflated in her mind. It was fairly confusing to me, and yet her story is so gripping, and she writes so well, that ultimately I didn't feel like I needed to understand it completely. Moore has two sisters; her mother has gone to New York, and we don't know why. Her father has charge of the children, who want to see "Mam," her mother, and the family seems to prevaricate, so you don't know what that was all about until near the end of the book. It's not the way I would have written it; it's almost as if Moore, or her editors, wanted to make it seem like fiction, where everything pulls together at the end, but it didn't really work very well for me until her story was told, because I was just confused by the omission (and really confused when the narration shifted from Tutu to her mother). And all that said . . . it's very, very good. I'd recommend it to anybody. And I'd be happy to loan it to any of my friends, but I think I want it back. I might read it again some time.

  28. 4 out of 5

    Anika

    This memoir was absolutely stunning in its writing, chronicling the author's flight from her home at the age of 5 during the first Liberian Civil War and her later life in America. I had to do a little research to get the background on the civil war, as the memoir from that time has the perspective of a child and doesn't get into the who's and why's. I was impressed with the author's ability to distinctly write her child and adult times of life, and there's one chapter in particular in her child This memoir was absolutely stunning in its writing, chronicling the author's flight from her home at the age of 5 during the first Liberian Civil War and her later life in America. I had to do a little research to get the background on the civil war, as the memoir from that time has the perspective of a child and doesn't get into the who's and why's. I was impressed with the author's ability to distinctly write her child and adult times of life, and there's one chapter in particular in her child time that was so powerful in its childlike consciousness, it hit me in the heart. I can't imagine the terror of fleeing on foot for months, but her father, with 4, 5, and 6 year old daughters in tow, clearly did all he could to shelter them in the horror, and the author refers to people "sleeping" everywhere on the road. What was more striking was when the author goes to therapy as an adult and she tells her therapist that her trauma is not her time in Liberia and fleeing war, but her trauma is experienced in America in the country's every day racism that beats you down. It was a sad memoir, but the sacrifice and heroism of parents looking out for their children really got me, as well as the author's stunning writing and the commentary she had on life as a Black girl from Africa in America.

  29. 4 out of 5

    Wes F

    Civil war rages in Liberia as a father flees his hometown with 3 little daughters & his in-laws through the jungle. His wife--and the author's mother--is in the US studying in university with a Fulbright scholarship. This is memoir begins with the author at 5 years old, not completely understanding what is happening around here--"drums" are really gunfire; people "sleeping" all over the roads are dead people--killed by the violent rebels seeking to overthrow the powers that be (this was during t Civil war rages in Liberia as a father flees his hometown with 3 little daughters & his in-laws through the jungle. His wife--and the author's mother--is in the US studying in university with a Fulbright scholarship. This is memoir begins with the author at 5 years old, not completely understanding what is happening around here--"drums" are really gunfire; people "sleeping" all over the roads are dead people--killed by the violent rebels seeking to overthrow the powers that be (this was during the horribly violent years of Charles Taylor's ascendancy). I thought this was well-written & evocative about home, parents & grandparents, the power of stories/myths, as well as of Scripture, and of ethnic identity & racism. One section includes the perspective of the mother who is in her studies in the US when the civil war breaks out in Libera, catching her family in its tentacles. She returns to find her family--against all advice--hoping to rescue them out of the Liberian nightmare and to bring them to the US to be with her. Some pretty tense moments. Read on my Kindle; borrowed from the library.

  30. 4 out of 5

    Courtney Ferriter

    ** 4 stars ** Compulsively readable memoir about the author's flight from Liberia as a child during a military coup and the struggles of family separation. Really enjoyed it overall and felt an emotional connection to the story. Full video review here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xpuMk... ** 4 stars ** Compulsively readable memoir about the author's flight from Liberia as a child during a military coup and the struggles of family separation. Really enjoyed it overall and felt an emotional connection to the story. Full video review here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xpuMk...

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