Blood & Milk
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Heath Crowley is an Australian man, born with two different coloured eyes and the gift—or curse—of having premonition dreams. He also has nothing left to live for. Twelve months after having his life upended, his dreams tell him where he needs to be. So with nothing―and no one―to keep him in Sydney, he simply boards a plane for Tanzania. Not caring if he lives or dies, Heath walks into a tribe of Maasai and asks to stay. Granted permission, he leaves behind the name and heartbreak of Heath and starts over with the new Maasai name of Alé.
From the day of his birth, Damu has always been an outcast. The son of the chief and brother to the great warrior leader, Damu is reminded constantly that he’s not good enough to be considered a man in the eyes of his people. Ordered to take responsibility for Alé, Damu shares with him the ways of the Maasai, just as Alé shares with Damu the world outside the acacia thorn fence. But it’s more than just a cultural exchange. It’s about trust and acceptance, finding themselves, and a true sense of purpose.
Under the African sky on the plains of the Serengeti, Heath finds more than just a reason to live. He finds a man like no other, and a reason to love.
*** Copy provided to Bayou Book Junkie for my reading pleasure, a review wasn't a requirement. ***
Heath Crowley was born with two different colored eyes and the curse of having premonitory dreams. His life is in shambles and he doesn't care if he lives or dies, so after having one of his dreams, he ends up in Tanzania, requesting to live with the Maasai people for as long as they'll have him. There he meets Damu, who they appoint as his guide and takes the name of Alé, learning to live as his hosts.
Damu has been an outsider all his life, but he's loyal, kind and considerate, happy with what he's been given. As he and Heath grow closer, Damu starts to discover what it is that he'd been missing his whole life and with Damu's help, Heath begins to heal and finds love and trust once again.
I loved Damu! He was fascinating, patient and trusting, content with his life, even if to Heath it was difficult to imagine why considering he was an outcast in his own village, relegated to doing women's chores. Still, Damu never complained, happy and proud of helping his people in any way he could.
I adored Heath, too, he was such a fantastic character. He was so strong, especially considering what he'd gone through before getting to Tanzania. I loved that he was open enough to give what he was feeling for Damu a chance and to fight for it, above all. I loved the two of them together, too. Yes, Damu helped Heath heal, but Heath also helped Damu when he needed him the most. They were sweet and hot, perhaps it wasn't electric, but it was the kind of love that just transcends the page and stays with you forever.
N.R. Walker's writing is stellar, as always, and she did an amazing job portraying what life in a Maasai village could be and show us how Heath adapted to live with them, without trying to change their ways to fit his needs. I loved the progression, not too fast or too slow, just perfect to showcase how Heath and Damu's feelings evolve in the time they live in the village. I loved to see them interact with most of the people there, except Kijani, Damu's brother, who was horrible to them.
The story is realistic, powerful, emotional, hopeful, angsty, romantic and hot all rolled into one of the most perfect books I've had the pleasure of reading. Definitely a must-read!
Rating: 5+ Stars!!!
An extraordinary book, unlike anything else I've ever read. I found myself in awe of NR Walker to be able to paint such a vivid and detailed picture of a culture not widely known. While there will always be fear that an outsider is in no way capable of capturing the true ways of a people they have no first-hand connection to, I felt as if it was done with sensitivity and respect and it left me wanting to learn more about the Maasai people.
What I Loved: Above everything else in this book what I loved was Damu. His spirit, his innate kindness, the fact that no matter what was thrown at him he continued to take things in stride and hold on to his loving heart. This was a man who did not dwell on things he knew could not be changed, he would simply say “I cannot change it, so I give it no mind.”
As much as I loved him, he broke my heart as well. He was so loving and loyal to his people. He respected their ways and held no ill will towards those who treated him like dirt or ignored him altogether. Those very people that he would have risked his own life for thought of him as “worthless” and “not a man”. His very own brother thought of him as less than nothing and would have no problem taking his life for loving another man. I have fallen in love with characters before but if I had to choose one who touched me the most, it would be Damu.
“There was a buzz throughout the whole kraal, and I could hear bursts of laughter coming from inside some of the huts, while the elders stood in closed circles trading stories. All the while, Damu was on the outer. If I hadn’t been here with him, he’d have been completely alone. He was never included, he was never part of anything. He simply stood on the outside looking in and seemingly happy to do so. He smiled as they smiled, never an inkling of jealousy or yearning. He was happy because they were happy. His own joy, his own place of belonging, never entered into the equation.”
What I Liked: There was so much in this story that I liked, the entire read was excellent. I liked the premise, a unique take on a broken man leaving home and meeting someone who would eventually change his life and inevitably heal him. While Damu, as well as his tribe, helped to heal Heath, ultimately Heath helped to heal Damu as well.
I truly liked Heath, he was open and committed. He was strong and intelligent. He showed great respect to everyone. He did not try to bestow his own personal beliefs on the Maasai, he chose to learn from them. To adapt to their way of life. He cared so much for Damu and it shows in everything he does.
I also liked the fact that while there were things Heath disliked about the culture and the Maasai ways, there was never any instances in which I felt the author was attempting to say that “The white man knows better”. This wasn’t a book about certain people being better than others.
What Didn't Work: Honestly, I can't think of a single thing that I didn't like about Blood and Milk.
Would I recommend this book? Absolutely!
***Copy provided to Bayou Book Junkie for my reading pleasure, a review wasn't a requirement.***
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