A funny and moving story told through the letters of two women nurturing a friendship as they are separated by distance, experience, and time.Close friends and former college roommates, Hilary Liftin and Kate Montgomery promised to write when Kate's Peace Corps assignment took her to Africa. Over the course of a single year, they exchanged an offbeat and moving series of letters from rural Kenya to New York City and back again.
One woman has the privilege of a happy, secure marriage while confronting the poverty of a Third World country. The other enjoys the luxuries of a big American city while struggling to find romantic happiness. In this humorous, touching, real-as-daylight collection of letters former college roommates Liftin and Montgomery exchanged during their year apart, we see the support and humor two 20-something women can offer each other as they move down disparate paths. In the small Kenyan town where she and her husband are spending 12 months as Peace Corps volunteers, Montgomery realizes that, although she can gamely adjust to eating rancid goat stew, living with fist-sized spiders and having her house exorcised of genies, the tasks of caning students until they bleed and teaching them to "sit down and shut up" while their headmaster uses their textbook money to buy himself a new pickup truck are beyond her limits of cultural assimilation. Meanwhile, back in New York City, Liftin tackles her own obstacles, including finding an apartment in Manhattan, surviving the embarrassing loss of her "cybervirginity," enduring the threats of a paranoid neighbor and recovering from the pain of unreciprocated love. Though Liftin's problems can pale in comparison to Montgomery's, the duo's correspondence makes it clear that their relationship has thrived precisely because of their unconditional recognition of the immediacy and importance of each other's travails. Many women readers will be reminded of their own intense college and postcollege friendships, and may be inspired to try to reconnect with lost friends. This is a smoothly sewn book that appeals on several levels: as engaging travel literature, as a witty exploration of modern women's lives and as a testament to the power and blessing of friendship. Agent, Cindy Klein Roche. Author tour -- PUBLISHERS WEEKLY.
There are no customer reviews available at this time. Would you like to write a review?
April 27, 1999
Number of Print Pages*
Adobe DRM EPUB
* Number of eBook pages may differ. Click here for more information.
Excerpt from Dear Exile by Hilary Liftin
Kate and I go way back. When I was in the fourth grade I pretended to have a friend named Kate to make my then best friend jealous. During math I'd write letters to the imagined Kate telling her secrets Lisa didn't know. Eight years later, as if to prove my supernatural instinct, I got a letter from a real Kate. It was just before college, and all three of my future roommates had written to introduce themselves. I was too cool to write a letter. Kate's was the last to arrive. All I remember about her letter was that she informed us that she wasn't a kleptomaniac, didn't drool excessively, and wasn't a Republican. As soon as I read her letter I called Kate and explained that she and I should share a room.
Little did she know what sharing a room with me meant. Kate's blond hair belied her studious, ascetic sensibility. While I was actively celebrating release from an all-girls environment, Kate had actually communicated with boys before. This did not mean, however, that she wasn't supportive of my experimentation. I would regularly enter our room at three a.m., flick on the bare bulb that hung only inches above her bunk, and start telling her how Charles or some other heartbreaker had flirtatiously sprayed beer on my shoes. Or we'd have to take that hour to hyperanalyze what it meant when Sam wrote, "I feel like a thief when I'm with her, Hal," on the bathroom door. Kate insists that we bonded during these late-night sessions. I guess I believe her.
Years later some things hadn't changed. Coming home to my New York apartment one night, I found the following note on yellow sticky paper in very tiny handwriting:
Since I'd be your wife if you were male,
And since you've never eaten a grape;
Since you have a lust for life
And for men whose initials form rhyme schemes;
Since you don't much care for spittle
Being dabbed in your hair by blow-dried women
And since you don't believe Noguchi's sculpture
Was his contorted feminine side trying to get out;
Since you must sleep with two pillows
And since your table at the library says, "but I love him";
Since you had to kill that girl you baby-sat for
Because she wore navy and looked so innocent;
Since you can't like just one part of a love poem;
Since you claim that being happy is not an invitation to sing
And since you are short and fuzzy-headed,
And since I love you,
(And since you sort of said I could) I took your new green dress.