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There Is No Me Without You: One Woman’s Odyssey to Rescue Africa’s Children

By Melissa Fay GreeneBloomsbury; $25.95

Buy this book

If you’re willing to let the laundry pile up and forego sleep, then by all means, pick up Melissa Fay Greene’s latest book. Given a topic as complex and deeply moving as the untold numbers of children in Ethiopia orphaned by AIDS, Greene, a consummate storyteller, comes into her own. Think twice, however, before reading it on a crowded commuter train as I did: You will be moved to tears while wedged between complete strangers.

There Is No Me Without You, is, in a word, rich. Greene braids together the scourge of HIV/AIDS in Africa and the failure of the U.S. pharmaceutical industry to address the crisis with the story of one Ethiopian woman who, despite dire warnings from friends, wades into the pandemic and starts to care for orphans. Haregewoin Teferra began fostering children as a way to stem her grief after losing an adult daughter. At first, there were just a few. Then the floodgates opened—and dozens of children found their way to her home. At last count, she has cared for at least 250 children.

Get More Greene!

Read “The Only Thing He Brought,” an excerpt from Melissa Fay Greene's new book, in the November/December 2006 issue of Adoptive Families, and then visit our Melissa Fay Greene page at

While Greene, a mother of five adopted children (four from Ethiopia) and four biological children, is emphatic that adoption cannot begin to address the crisis, she tells several riveting stories of children who are adopted from Teferra’s foster home into American families. Her masterful prose is at work as she describes what it means for one such boy—Ababu—to join his new family, the Armisteads: “His existential fall through space and time, across the Atlantic Ocean, across time zones and continents and the diversity of human races, came to a halt with solid Dave Armistead, and Ababu was not going to let go.”

Reviewed by Renée Olson, Editor, Adoptive Families.

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