The House at Sugar Beach tells the story of a woman growing and a tumultuous period in her country’s history, seen through the lens of her privilege. Helene Cooper, who traces her lineage back to the first freeman who left New York to found the African nation, grew up among the Liberian elite in a world filled servants, a mansion, and African traditions like hot pepper soup and knock foot games. Her world changed when a 1980 coup d’état forced her family to flee. This memoir tells the story of Cooper’s journey back to Liberia, a story both personal and her coming to terms with the truth of her war torn nation.
On December 26, 2004 a tsunami ravaged Southeast Asia leaving over 200,000 people dead and over 1 million displaced. Sonali Deraniyagala lost her parents, her husband, and her two sons that day. In Wave, she tells her gut-wrenching story. I would be lying if I said this book was an easy read or that it had a satisfying, uplifting ending rather it is one of the most beautiful and honest portrayals of grief I have ever read. Through her sorrow, Deraniyagala reflects on her childhood, meeting her husband at Cambridge, and everything that led to that horrendous day but ultimately leaves us with the message that life simply goes on.