Off the Shelves – October 26

The following item is available at the Hancock County Public Library, 900 W. McKenzie Road. For more information on the library’s collection or to reserve a title, visit hcplibrary.org.

Adult Fiction

“Inheriting Edith,” by Zoe Fishman

For years, Maggie Sheets has been an invisible hand in the homes of wealthy New York City clients, scrubbing, dusting, mopping and doing all she can to keep her head above water as a single mother. All that changes when a former employer dies, leaving Maggie a staggering inheritance: a house in upper class Sag Harbor. The catch? It comes with an inhabitant: the deceased’s 82-year old mother Edith. Edith has Alzheimer’s — or so the doctors tell her — but she remembers exactly how her daughter Liza could light up a room or bring a pall of gloom to any situation; but now Liza is gone, by her own hand, and Edith has been left to a poorly-dressed young woman with a toddler in tow. Both women are certain this arrangement will be a disaster, but as time passes, a bond forms. Edith, who feels the urgency of her diagnosis, shares a secret that she’s kept for five decades, launching Maggie on a mission that might lead each of them to what they are looking for.

Adult Nonfiction

“White Man’s Game: saving animals, rebuilding Eden, and other myths of conservation in Africa,” by Stephanie Hanes

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Gorongosa National Park, once the crown jewel of Mozambique but nearly destroyed by decades of civil war, looked like a perfect place for Western philanthropy: revive the park and tourists would return, a win-win outcome for the environment and the impoverished villagers living in the area. Yet research showed the local communities actually getting hungrier, sicker and poorer as the project went on. And efforts to bring back wildlife became far more difficult than expected. In pursuit of answers, Stephanie Hanes takes readers on safari across southern Africa, from the shark-filled waters off Cape Agulhas to a reserve trying to save endangered wild dogs. She traces the tangled history of Western missionaries, explorers and do-gooders in Africa, from Stanley and Livingstone to Teddy Roosevelt, from Bono and the Live Aid festivals to Greg Carr, the American benefactor of Gorongosa. She examines the larger problems that arise when Westerners — with the best of intentions — try to fix complex situations in the developing world, but potentially overlook the wishes of the people who live there. Beneath the uplifting stories we tell ourselves about helping Africans, there often lies a dramatic misunderstanding of what the locals actually need and want.