The House at Sugar Beach: In Search of a Lost African Childhood

by Cooper, Helene (Author)

ISBN: 9780743266253

In the tradition of Don't Let's Go to the Dogs Tonight, a world-renowned journalist presents a haunting memoir of a war-torn Liberian childhood and her return to her native country, 20 years after her family's flight, to reunite with the foster sister they left behind.

Format: Paperback, 354 pages

Publisher: Simon & Schuster, July 2009

Product Dimensions: 8.22 L × 5.46 W × 0.91 H

Publisher Marketing: Helene Cooper is Congo, a descendant of two Liberian dynasties - traced back to the first ship of freemen that set sail from New York in 1820 to found Monrovia. Helene grew up at Sugar Beach, a twenty-two-room mansion by the sea. Her childhood was filled with servants, flashy cars, a villa in Spain, and a farmhouse up-country. It was also an African childhood, filled with knock foot games and hot pepper soup, heartmen and neegee. When Helene was eight, the Coopers took in a foster child - a common custom among the Liberian elite. Eunice, a Bassa girl, suddenly became known as Mrs. Cooper's daughter.

For years the Cooper daughters - Helene, her sister Marlene, and Eunice - blissfully enjoyed the trappings of wealth and advantage. But Liberia was like an unwatched pot of water left boiling on the stove. And on April 12, 1980, a group of soldiers staged a coup d'etat, assassinating President William Tolbert and executing his cabinet. The Coopers and the entire Congo class were now the hunted, being imprisoned, shot, tortured, and raped. After a brutal daylight attack by a ragtag crew of soldiers, Helene, Marlene, and their mother fled Sugar Beach, and then Liberia, for America. They left Eunice behind.

A world away, Helene tried to assimilate as an American teenager. At the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill she found her passion in journalism, eventually becoming a reporter for the Wall Street Journal and the New York Times. She reported from every part of the globe - except Africa - as Liberia descended into war-torn, third-world hell.

In 2003, a near-death experience in Iraq convinced Helene that Liberia - andEunice - could wait no longer. At once a deeply personal memoir and an examination of a violent and stratified country, The House at Sugar Beach tells of tragedy, forgiveness, and transcendence with unflinching honesty and a survivor's gentle humor. And at its heart, it is a story of Helene Cooper's long voyage home.

* Subject to availability