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{Free eBook} The House at Sugar BeachAuthor Helene Cooper –

Journalist Helene Cooper Examines The Violent Past Of Her Home Country Liberia And The Effects Of Its Military Coup In This Deeply Personal Memoir And Finalist For The National Book Critics Circle AwardHelene Cooper Is Congo, A Descendant Of Two Liberian Dynasties Traced Back To The First Ship Of Freemen That Set Sail From New York In To Found Monrovia Helene Grew Up At Sugar Beach, A Twenty Two Room Mansion By The Sea Her Childhood Was Filled With Servants, Flashy Cars, A Villa In Spain, And A Farmhouse Up Country It Was Also An African Childhood, Filled With Knock Foot Games And Hot Pepper Soup, Heartmen And Neegee When Helene Was Eight, The Coopers Took In A Foster Child A Common Custom Among The Liberian Elite Eunice, A Bassa Girl, Suddenly Became Known As Mrs Cooper S Daughter For Years The Cooper Daughters Helene, Her Sister Marlene, And Eunice Blissfully Enjoyed The Trappings Of Wealth And Advantage But Liberia Was Like An Unwatched Pot Of Water Left Boiling On The Stove And On April A Group Of Soldiers Staged A Coup D Tat, Assassinating President William Tolbert And Executing His Cabinet The Coopers And The Entire Congo Class Were Now The Hunted, Being Imprisoned, Shot, Tortured, And Raped After A Brutal Daylight Attack By A Ragtag Crew Of Soldiers, Helene, Marlene, And Their Mother Fled Sugar Beach, And Then Liberia, For America They Left Eunice BehindA World Away, Helene Tried To Assimilate As An American Teenager At The University Of North Carolina At Chapel Hill She Found Her Passion In Journalism, Eventually Becoming A Reporter For The Wall Street Journal And The New York Times She Reported From Every Part Of The Globe Except Africa As Liberia Descended Into War Torn, Third World HellIn , A Near Death Experience In Iraq Convinced Helene That Liberia And Eunice Could Wait No Longer At Once A Deeply Personal Memoir And An Examination Of A Violent And Stratified Country, The House At Sugar Beach Tells Of Tragedy, Forgiveness, And Transcendence With Unflinching Honesty And A Survivor S Gentle Humor And At Its Heart, It Is A Story Of Helene Cooper S Long Voyage Home

10 thoughts on “The House at Sugar Beach

  1. says:

    Wow this woman has quite a story to tell Raised in the elite class in Liberia with many servants and all the pleasures that money will bring, she will later live through a coup that kills many of her relatives and her parents friends in high government jobs This forces her, her mother and sister, to flee the country.Later in the story she tells of her career as an international journalist for the Wall Street Journal and her experiences in many foreign countries, including Iraq.A great memoir with not an inkling of self pity but rather joy at having experienced so much.I would highly recommend this book, it is also very informational about Liberia.

  2. says:

    This book is soft, tentative and predictable It is 85% Helene Cooper and 15% Liberia Though Cooper is a reputable journalist, this is her memoir it lingers on her girlish crushes, her favorite dresses and the troubled marriage of her aristocratic parents The second part is an unexceptional account of Cooper s semi assimilation into American culture, starting midway through her high school years and tracing her deliberate mission to become an influential foreign correspondent Throughout this book, her training as a journalist shows everything is seen from a distance and presented with efficiency in a context made historical with a few statistics and anecdotes.Owing to Cooper s immensely privileged upbringing and her early departure form Liberia, it seems that she didn t have that much raw material to work with when trying to conjure up the realities of her motherland Her note at the end makes it sound like she would not have shared one single sensory impression of the country if her supportive family and friends hadn t peppered the narrative with their own remembrances Ultimately, Helene is too humorless, earnest and insecure for my tastes and while she was,in one sense, the ultimate insider, she was also extremely far removed from the pulse of her country She rightly faults herself for papering over seismic moment s in her life by focusing on the superficial That tendency shows throughout the narrative It would have been much stronger if Cooper had brought other voices into her story, if she had inhabited the perspective of anyone else in her age group or generation in order to introduce her readers to a complex portrait of her country Her perspective is tiring.I expected her to fill the niche of Liberian Memoirist and she didn t This is an adequate autobiography with a bit of hand wringing about how the author didn t become as aware of Liberia as she could have and didn t invest as much of herself in bettering her country as she could have If you still read this book, know that you will be presented with a number of executions and rapes that may prove disturbing Cooper treats them in the lightest and most sanitized way but the reader does not escape them entirely.

  3. says:

    Helene Cooper has written a compelling memoir about her childhood in Liberia, the revolution of 1980, and her subsequent life in the US.1973 Helene is 7 years old Her life is than blessed The House at Sugar Beach is a mansion She has parents she loves and a sister she okay only tolerates Her family takes in Eunice, a child from a poor family, and Eunice becomes the sister she loves.Helene s parents are John Lewis Cooper Jr and Calista Esmerelda Dennis Cooper Together they represented three Liberian dynasties The Coopers, the Dennises and the Johnsons Her fathers s ancestors dated back to one of the first ships of freed blacks that immigrated to Liberia from America in the early 1800 s Mommee s ancestor was on the FIRST ship If Elijah Johnson had not existed, Liberia might not exist.1980 Native Liberian soldiers, under the leadership of Master Sgt Kanyon Doe, stormed the Executive Mansion and killed the then President, Tolbert Up to that time, the original Liberian people, the poor people, were referred to as the Country People Those in power and rich, with ancestors coming from America, were the Congo People With Doe in power, Helene s entire family was in great danger Helene, her sister and Mommee were able to escape to America and settled in Knoxville TN Daddy was already in America Eunice was left behind.The rest of the story describes how Helene settles in, goes to school, and becomes a journalist She has not seen Eunice in 20 years and she vows to go back to Liberia to find her The devastation that has occurred in Liberia is heartbreaking Eunice has survived, Helene learns, and she goes on a trek to find her.This story was quite good I especially like the Liberian English that these people spoke Lyrical Funny It was an English that Helene never forgot, even after becoming Americanized My favorite phrase was I hold your foot , meaning Please don t do that 4 stars

  4. says:

    If you enjoyed this book, you should check out My Colombian War by Silvana Paternostro Their stories are remarkably similar a the narrator is part of the rich, privileged class in a predominantly poor country b Her ancestors are important founders of her country and she lives a charmed childhood up until increasing violence forces her to flee the country in her teens c leaving behind the lower class girl her parents had semi adopted to be her friend d She immerses herself in the American culture and largely ignores the deteriorating conditions in her birth country e Once she becomes an journalist covering international stories, she decides to revisit her birth country despite the dangers and rediscovers herself It is literally the same story just change the setting to Colombia instead of Liberia.Yet, Cooper s writing is far easier and enjoyable to read than Paternostro s And despite her lavish up bringing, she miraculously does not come off as a spoiled brat I also loved that she expanded her book beyond a self memoir to include the history of Liberia s founding, its political upheaval, and loads of fascinating insights in Liberian culture including various expressions like oh, white man can lie, oh and yummy sounding foods like palm butter I was intrigued as she clearly traced her ancestors back to the 1800s something I would love to do for myself someday Overall, her book is charming, easy to read, and insightful I certainly feel like I learned something about Liberia a country that before I could point out on a map but that s about it The book s only perceived drawbacks are as follows 1 Cooper has a tendency to repeat herself a lot Not major parts, but details such as my aunt so and so was married to so and so and then one chapter later I visited my aunt so and so, who was the wife of so and so Her cast of characters and other elements were easy enough to follow, and these repetitions were unnecessary 2 Also, she herself does not play a big role in Liberia s political scene although members of her extended family certainly did So her story is mainly focused on her childhood with her limited perspective of the coup as it happened and then as an adult reflecting back and conducting researching 3 Moreover, Copper glazed over her career as a globe trekking journalist I understand the focus of the book was her reconnection to her birth country Yet I still would have enjoyed a larger section on her career instead such a superficial treatment 4 Last, I wrote earlier that her memoir is insightful Yet she fails to illuminate one big irony her ancestors, free blacks in slavery based society, left behind the oppressive U.S to sail to West Africa only to set up a society where they became the oppressors To conclude, I was lucky enough to attend a speech by Cooper She was down to earth, self effacing and answered the audience s questions about her personal life with candor However, she is not the most polished speaker and the majority of her speech consisted of her reading passages from this book She definitely expresses herself better in writing, and that s okay.

  5. says:

    The House at Sugar Beach is a combination family memoir, history of Liberia, and gut wrenching first hand account of what it was like to live through a coup d tat Born in Liberia in 1966, Helene Cooper led a life of comfort and privilege as Congo, a term for descendants of the repatriated free blacks that arrived in West Africa from the United States in the 1820 s She lived in a mansion attended by servants and her extended family held positions in the government Her parents took in a local girl, Eunice, as a companion for their daughters, and she was treated as part of the immediate family Eunice was a Country, as descendants of the indigenous African people were labeled The rancor between the Congo and Country groups originated in the 1820 s and was inflamed by differences in socioeconomic standing, with a small percentage of the population controlling a large portion of the wealth Tensions between the two groups erupted into violence in 1980 when a small group led by Samuel Doe staged a coup d tat, killed the President, and executed governmental officials This memoir is educational and engaging One of the author s strengths is her ability to vividly describe the ambiance of Liberia, such as the foods, idioms, customs, and social structure of the time Liberia s history is expertly woven into the narrative to provide the context for the coming political disruptions The author directly relates the horrors experienced by her family members during the coup, evoking feelings of outrage and sympathy Helene Cooper was a young girl during the early part of the memoir and the language is that of a child, which, while accurate in reflecting a child s tone and perspective, is not particularly analytical and is focused on somewhat frivolous topics The time she spends in the United States after the coup seems unfocused and meandering A adult perspective emerges in the last half of the memoir, when the author returns to Liberia to reconnect with her friends and family, hoping to resolve her guilt and regrets She relates the latest round of political unrest and the impact on the populace While a bit uneven, the book is worthwhile to learn about the country and the people of Liberia.

  6. says:

    I loved reading this book It s a memoir of the author s privileged childhood in Liberia, the early days of civil war there and her family s flight, and her journey of building a life in another country and ultimately coming to terms with her homeland Helene Cooper is an award winning journalist, and you can see that clearly in her writing, which is compelling, informative, and relatable She builds scenes from her childhood in an almost novelistic way, and explores the dynamics of her complicated family with depth and honesty While she was born to a Liberian dynasty descended from the first free blacks who arrived from the U.S to build a colony , there s an ever present reminder of her privilege in her best friend, a poor native Liberian girl her parents adopt to be her playmate The divergence between the lives of these two as they grow older tells you a lot about Liberia and the world Cooper is also able to tell a personal, gripping story about the war, in which her family does not escape violence And she includes a few helpful chapters detailing her family history and the early history of Liberia While the portion of the book dealing with her life outside Liberia is much shorter, it s still an interesting look at the family members relative assimilation and race relations in the U.S.But it isn t all heavy stuff There s quite a bit of humor and fun in the book, especially as the author remembers her childhood and teenage years She also seems enthusiastic about explaining Liberian culture and Liberian English to those unfamiliar with it, adding a lot of flavor to the story.In fact, perhaps neither of my two reservations about the book is fairly attributed to the author One is that it has than its share of copyediting mistakes The other is that, despite the history included, I never understood how the relatively peaceful country in which Cooper grew up spawned one of Africa s most brutal civil wars, with all the atrocities she describes I m sure that to the teenaged Helene Cooper this made just as little sense but as a veteran foreign correspondent who rode along for the invasion of Iraq, she probably has some insight into what makes wars different from one another I would have appreciated the level of research about the war that she clearly put into the colony s early years, though as a memoir the book succeeds regardless Overall, this is a very well told story featuring distinct, complicated personalities, from a self aware and thoughtful writer with fascinating life experiences It s also a great way to learn about a corner of the world that most people know little about I would definitely recommend this one.

  7. says:

    If you are interested in learning a thing or two about Liberia, definitely pick up this book Helene Cooper does a wonderful job of telling her family s very interesting story while putting everything into a historical context I learned a lot about Liberia by reading this book and it has inspired me to learn .

  8. says:

    I d like to excuse Cooper s failure to grapple meaningfully with the themes that should be all over a book about a girl growing up in pre war Liberia as a character weakness, which is how she presents it, but I can t To constantly focus on the superficial as a defense mechanism against disparity and atrocity makes for a poor memoir The Acknowledgments section is full of thanks to people who encouraged her to delve deeper and talk about the big picture I can only imagine what a disaster an earlier draft of this well written but ultimately vacuous book would be.

  9. says:

    Liberia, if you didn t know, and I sure didn t, was founded by free slaves in the 1800 s Like most civilizations, they immediately divided the country into a caste system, the cultivated American born and the native, country people According to history, this eventually resulted in a coup, no real surprise.This memoir is written by one of the little girls that grew up in the upper class of this society until she was a teen Her family had or less adopted a country girl, and they became like family Only the Coopers moved when the civil war happened and left their adopted daughter behind Lives were lived and Helene, the former rich girl in a poor country, decided it was time to go back The book is expertly written, utilizing the reporting of facts with a conversational style that spares no feelings, especially on her own part It illuminates Liberian culture and touches upon its history and speaks of the tragedy that befell it It is a story about growing up and accepting who you are It is also a book I would recommend to all.

  10. says:

    I am going to respectfully give this book a miss for now I started reading the book and just could not connect to it Not the right moment to read it The violence and journalistic approach to the story is getting me down.Will try again later.