Wild Life: Dispatches from a Childhood of Baboons and Button-Downs

Keena Roberts. Grand Central, $28 (352p) ISBN 978-1-5387-4515-1
Roberts’s refreshing, upbeat debut is a rollicking memoir of girlhood adventure and matter-of-fact bravery. Raised by university professors and primatologists who conduct field research half the year, Roberts straddled two worlds: the African bush and a Philadelphia private school. When she was eight, her family moved to Baboon Camp, a research outpost in a watery delta of Botswana, where she learned to read the freshness of leopard, impala, and lion prints to determine “how careful I needed to be.” At 10 she piloted a motorboat on a two-hour mission past elephants, hippos, and crocodiles and is rewarded with a beer. Roberts writes with humor and kindness throughout, especially as she examines white privilege and the cultural differences of the Botswanans. Back in the U.S. she missed “the comforting familiarity of hyenas whooping and zebras calling,” and objected to going to class “when I heard that school was an inside activity.” Attending school in Philadelphia as an avid fantasy reader, she shied in the face of bullies: “America was not a safe place for me... I had to lie low and let the danger pass.” When she was accepted to Harvard, a competitive classmate said, “You don’t deserve to go,” calling her upbringing “an unfair hook... to get something you haven’t earned.” Resilient and resourceful, Roberts celebrates an unorthodox life in this endearing memoir. (Nov.)
Reviewed on : 09/10/2019
Release date: 11/12/2019
Genre: Nonfiction
Paperback - 304 pages - 978-1-5387-4516-8
Pre-Recorded Audio Player - 978-1-5491-8504-5
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