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Love in the Driest Season: A Family Memoir

Unabridged / Go to Abridged Audiobook

Written By: Neely Tucker

Narrated By: Michael Kramer

Publisher: Random House (Audio)

Date: December 2003

Duration: 7 hours 56 minutes


Foreign correspondent Neely Tucker and his wife, Vita, arrived in Zimbabwe in 1997. After witnessing firsthand the devastating consequences of AIDS on the population, especially the children, the couple started volunteering at an orphanage that was desperately underfunded and short-staffed. One afternoon, a critically ill infant was brought to the orphanage from a village outside the city. She’d been left to die in a field on the day she was born, abandoned in the tall brown grass that covers the highlands of Zimbabwe in the dry season. After a near-death hospital stay, and under strict doctor’s orders, the ailing child was entrusted to the care of Tucker and Vita. Within weeks Chipo, the girl-child whose name means gift, would come to mean everything to them.

Still an active correspondent, Tucker crisscrossed the continent, filing stories about the uprisings in the Congo, the civil war in Sierra Leone, and the postgenocidal conflict in Rwanda. He witnessed heartbreaking scenes of devastation and violence, steeling him further to take a personal role in helping anywhere he could. At home in Harare, Vita was nursing Chipo back to health. Soon she and Tucker decided to alter their lives forever—they would adopt Chipo. That decision challenged an unspoken social norm—that foreigners should never adopt Zimbabwean children.

Raised in rural Mississippi in the sixties and seventies, Tucker was familiar with the mores associated with and dictated by race. His wife, a savvy black woman whose father escaped the Jim Crow South for a new life in the industrial North, would not be deterred in her resolve to welcome Chipo into their loving family.

As if their situation wasn’t tenuous enough, Zimbabwe President Robert Mugabe was stirring up national fervor against foreigners, especially journalists, abroad and at home. At its peak, his antagonizing branded all foreign journalists personae non grata. For Tucker, the only full-time American correspondent in Zimbabwe, the declaration was a direct threat to his life and his wife’s safety, and an ultimatum to their decision to adopt the child who had already become their only daughter.

Against a background of war, terrorism, disease, and unbearable uncertainty about the future, Chipo’s story emerges as an inspiring testament to the miracles that love—and dogged determination—can sometimes achieve. Gripping, heartbreaking, and triumphant, this family memoir will resonate throughout the ages.


  • Anonymous

    Story about love, determination and patience. Very educational as well.

  • Jennifer Sharpe

    EXCELLENT !!!! You could feel the situation through their story.I LOVE the way the author was reading his own book .He lived these experiences and I could feel his joy ,pain,sorrow and love.What a wonderful experience to enjoy this book.I will remember this always .Thank You Neely Tucker for the courage to write this book.Good For You.May God Bless you ALL.

  • Peggy Stortz

    Tucker is an eloquent author who brings this narrative to life. Not only does the reader learn to love Chipo and Vita and Tucker, but also gets an education about life in Africa. Highly recommended.

  • Anonymous

    I can hardly imagine what the unabridged version is like....there is so much detail in the abridged version! This is a true story of reverse racism and the unbelievable inefficiency of government employees in a Third World country. Much of what takes place defies all reason...and this listener, at least, emerged once again beathing a prayer of relief for having been born an American.

  • Anonymous

    I thoroughly enjoyed this book. The narrator was easy to listen to and the story was captivating.

  • Anonymous

    Amazng true story. I loved this book. The author writes with the color and texture of the best southern writers.

  • Pamela Hilts

    This book is wonderful because you are rewarded with not one, but two great stories. The flow of the political events that moved through Zimbabwe during the late 1990's was very interesting and had a powerful effect on the major characters. This is, however, mostly a story about a love affair that the author and his wife had with a sick, emaciated Zimbabwe infant. As they attempted to adopt this baby they weaved in and out of an impotent social welfare system. Truth is still stranger than fiction and here is yet another example! I thoroughly enjoyed this book. Read it for the political content or the uplifting story of what love is can really do.

Love in the Driest Season: A Family Memoir

by Neely Tucker

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Love in the Driest Season: A Family Memoir, Neely Tucker