Katie Reads: First Comes Love, Then Comes Malaria

While we were in Charleston (hypothetically more on that later), we found a massive used bookstore, and I went a little crazy. One of the numerous books I got was:


In this laugh-out-loud funny memoir, a pampered city girl falls head over little black heels in love with a Peace Corps poster boy and follows him —literally–to the ends of the earth.
Eve Brown always thought she would join the Peace Corps someday, although she secretly worried about life without sushi, frothy coffee drinks and air conditioning.  But with college diploma in hand, it was time to put up or shut up. So with some ambivalence she arrives at the Peace Corps office–sporting her best safari chic attire –to casually look into the steps one might take if one were to become a global humanitarian, a la Angelina Jolie.  But when Eve meets John, her dashing young Peace Corps recruiter, all her ambivalence flies out the window. She absolutely must join the Peace Corps – and win John’s heart in the process. Off to Ecuador she goes and – after a year in the jungle – back to the States she runs, vowing to stay within easy reach of a decaf cappuccino for the rest of her days.

But life had other plans.  Just as she’s getting reacquainted with the joys of toilet paper, John gets a job with CARE and Eve must decide if she’s up for life in another third world outpost. Before you can say, “pass the malaria prophylaxis,” the couple heads off to Uganda, and the fun really begins–if one can call having rats in your toilet fun. Fortunately, in Eve’s case one certainly can, because to her, every experience is an adventure to be embraced and these pages come alive with all of the alternatively poignant and uproarious details.
With wit and candor, First Comes Love, then Comes Malaria chronicles Eve’s misadventures as an aspiring do-gooder. From intestinal parasites to getting caught in a civil war, culture clashes to unexpected friendships, here is an honest and laugh-out-loud funny look at the search for love and purpose—from a woman who finds both in the last place she expected.

I grew up overseas, so I often have the travel bug. But travel costs money. Books also cost money, but significantly less money. So often, when the travel bug bites, I seek out books about other people traveling. (At the bookshop I found a term for these kind of books, which I had previously dubbed “I want something like Eat, Pray, Love but not that because I’ve read it before” – Literary Travel).

This book was just what I was looking for! The right mix of fish out of water in a foreign country and humor. I loved reading about Eve’s time in Uganda and the challenges she faced there. As a former expat I found myself recalling a lot of elements of my past while reading this, although none of our posts was in Africa. Despite that, there were elements of similarity between our experiences and it was really interesting to see things I felt growing up put into words.

The only thing that felt strange about the book was that the first couple chapters were about Eve’s time in the Peace Corps before we spent the rest of the book in Uganda. While it was cool to hear about the Peace Corps, I think the book would have been stronger if it had just started when Eve and her husband moved to Uganda. That or if Eve had expanded on her time in Ecuador so it didn’t feel like a disproportionately small section compared to the lengthier Ugandan part.

Overall a quick, fun read.

Stay magical readers!


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