This gripping memoir tells the story of an American doctor living and working in a war-torn country, and how the brutal conflict ultimately led her to motherhood. The book follows Cornelia E. Davis’ tenure as a Medical Epidemiologist at the World Health Organization Emergency Preparedness and Response Centre (WHO/EPR Centre) during the Ethiopian Civil War in the early 1990s. She paints a vivid picture of a culturally bountiful country burdened with rapidly spreading disease, and the tangible daily dangers of living and working in a war zone. Starting from Dr. Davis’—Connie as she prefers to be called—first days spearheading the development of guidelines for preventing, controlling, and responding to meningitis outbreaks, the memoir sweeps the reader through the gamut of life events, both the every-day and the monumental. From nearly being killed in the explosion of an underground ammunition depot, to risking her life assisting a family caught in the crossfire of the conflict, the stakes are consistently high in this thoroughly detailed memoir. Through all of this, she is eventually led to the most life-altering event of all—her fateful discovery of the little girl who would one day become her daughter.
Undoubtedly one of the best elements of the story is the hope, determination, and patience Davis displays during the lengthy process of looking to adopt a baby. When she finally meets the infant who will become her future daughter, a beautiful baby girl orphaned during the height of the conflict and brought to the local hospital, it is hard not to believe in the power of faith and purpose. Davis’ wonderful attention to detail only made me wish that there had been as much time spent on those special moments of new motherhood as there was on the buildup to it.
Both the storytelling and the story itself is impressive in this memoir. The pacing is great, weaving the reader seamlessly through the culture, the language, the traditions, and the everyday experience of living and working in the capital of Ethiopia during the apex of the Ethiopian Civil War. This story provides an interesting perspective on a time and a place that few people would be able to tell— and certainly not as colorfully and comprehensively as Davis manages to tell it.
Equal parts engrossing and inspiring, Cornelia E. Davis delivers a memoir rich in adventure, culture, and immersive storytelling in THREE YEARS IN ETHIOPIA: HOW A CIVIL WAR AND EPIDEMICS LED ME TO MY DAUGHTER.
~Chloe Rabinowitz for IndieReader