BOOK REVIEW: Mists of the Serengeti by Leylah Attar

Title: Mists of the Serengeti

Author: Leylah Attar

Series: N/A

Genre: Contemporary Romance

Published: January 31st 2017 by Pitch73 Publishing

Rating: 4/5 stars ★★★★

“Some circles never close, some wounds never heal. Love is like that. It leaves you forever open, forever vulnerable.”

SYNOPSIS:

Once in Africa, I kissed a king…

“And just like that, in an old red barn at the foothills of Mount Kilimanjaro, I discovered the elusive magic I had only ever glimpsed between the pages of great love stories. It fluttered around me like a newborn butterfly and settled in a corner of my heart. I held my breath, afraid to exhale for fear it would slip out, never to be found again.”

When a bomb explodes in a mall in East Africa, its aftershocks send two strangers on a collision course that neither one sees coming.

Jack Warden, a divorced coffee farmer in Tanzania, loses his only daughter. An ocean away, in the English countryside, Rodel Emerson loses her only sibling.

Two ordinary people, bound by a tragic afternoon, set out to achieve the extraordinary, as they make three stops to rescue three children across the vast plains of the Serengeti—children who are worth more dead than alive.

But even if they beat the odds, another challenge looms at the end of the line. Can they survive yet another loss—this time of a love that’s bound to slip through their fingers, like the mists that dissipate in the light of the sun?

“Sometimes you come across a rainbow story—one that spans your heart. You might not be able to grasp it or hold on to it, but you can never be sorry for the color and magic it brought.”

MY REVIEW:

4 of 5 stars to Mists of the Serengeti by Leylah Attar

★★★★

Attar writes in a way that grips you emotionally. The way she describes her characters’ griefs and regrets, motives and desires, were as if she has experienced it first handㅡand maybe she hasㅡbecause it was so spot on.

Mists of the Serengeti is a beautiful merging of contrasts: life and death, good and evil, beauty and madness, freedom and oppression, healing and heartbreakㅡthe list goes onㅡset in the perfect backdrop of Africa, a place where humans cohabit with the wild. It wounds but it also cures. The book also cleverly depicts the idea that “we are all connected,” some way or another our decisions and actions set off reactions, a series of events, that affect others, stranger or not.

The tragedy that struck both Jack and Rodel brought them together and eventually, healed them too. The trials they had to face to overcome their grief was astounding and that’s what made this story worthwhile. Two broken yet strong leads that found elusive happiness because they chose to be brave about it. Jack and Rodel are a reminder of where courage can take you.

Mists of the Serengeti could have been just another angst ridden novel but it was more than that because one, Attar masterfully told Jack and Rodel’s stories that it was so easy to sympathize with them. Their journey felt so real and raw.

Two, more than the romance, the story of the Albino kids in Africa really got to me. What they go through over there is outright evil. It breaks me to know about how much kids like them have suffered and I had no idea until now.

Three, the minor characters were as remarkable as the leads. I remember each one so vividly as if they starred in the book too. I remember their personalities, their quirks and desires even if they had less parts in the book. Again, it speaks of how good Attar approaches her characters. Bahati, the talkative local who was shunned by his tribe. He is funny, passionate about his dreams, and loyal. Goma is the fierce old lady who takes no sh*t from anyone. She is strong and reliable like a solid oak tree. She may seem cranky but she’s actually warm and big hearted. Scholastica, the shy and young albino girl who has much to learn but already understands a lot of things. She is wise beyond her years, has been through difficult times but the childike wonder in her remains. I also remember Olonana, the tribe leader who is set in his old ways but never let tradition trump wisdom. He is as sharp as an eagle eye. Then there is Lily, Gabriel and Mo. Lily, a name befitting a beautiful girl who loves to dance and have fun. She’s a free spirit and always sees the good in anything. Gabriel is your good old Robinhood, “doing bad things to help the needy.” His ways may be wrong but his heart is in the right place. Finally, we have Mo, the adventurous spirit who chases after new experiences. She’s as free as a bird. She’s passionate, willful and kind-hearted. She’s always looking for next destinations and it will always be that way. She’s never constant. She’s always moving.

Four, I learned so much from this book. It made me see Africa in all its glory, good and bad. I learned a bit of their culture and tradition. These are so important because it redefines what “reading experience” is really all about.

And laslty, the final chapter came as a sucker punch. After the HEA, I was ready to move on and get on my next book. However, a surprising twist at the end nearly broke me again. It’s one thing to know of a tragedy from an impersonal point of view (say, of loved ones left behind to tell the story of the accident) but it’s quite another thing to read it from the actual point of view of the people involved. In the beginning, I wasn’t attached to the characters who died because I barely got to know them. They were just anecdotes and stories from Jack and Rodel so they didn’t seem real. I never expected how much it will haunt me to read about these characters’ final moments, however. Up until their last breath, they were so selfess. It was just one chapter but it was enough to break me. That scene, it will probably stay with me forever.

***cover art: 3/5 stars. It looks good but I think it could have been better considering how rich the story is.***

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