Circling Home

What I Learned By Living Elsewhere

Non-Fiction - Memoir
312 Pages
Reviewed on 09/17/2023
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    Book Review

Reviewed by Nino Lobiladze for Readers' Favorite

Terry, her partner, Stefan, and their children, Aaron and Elena, moved from the US to Cote d’Ivoire, or Ivory Coast, at the beginning of the 1990s. Stefan's contract with the CDC allowed him to participate in an AIDS project as an epidemiologist. The 1990s were a time when the AIDS epidemic raged on the African continent. Stefan spent his early years in Africa and always wanted to work there, like his father, who was a public health veterinarian in the Belgian Congo at the time. Terry knew about his dream and was ready to follow Stefan to Africa with their two young children. Her aim had been to publish her Ph.D. thesis, a project she put on hold while she and Stefan were adopting a baby in Poland. After a stressful year, they finally reached West Africa. Terry endured a no less difficult period of adaptation to a different culture and climate. But the friendships she made and the work she and Stefan did in Ivory Coast, Tanzania, and later in Switzerland were worth it. Circling Home by Terry A. Repak is a profound read for fans of memoirs and travel books.

In Circling Home, Terry A. Repak invites us to share her wonderful, albeit demanding, adventure. The author opens up about the trials and tribulations she went through in foreign countries, from sicknesses to difficulties in relationships with her friends or children. Terry gives keen observations about people she met in her travels, using just a couple of strokes to paint a remarkable portrait. The author added psychological depth while describing her friends Mona and Ula and her memorable encounter with the US Ambassador during a trip to Madagascar. Terry's compassion toward Africans and their struggles with AIDS and poverty is heartwarming and uplifting, as is her work as a volunteer. The author gives us important historical insights into the development of AIDS treatments. Also, Terry constantly explores the concept of home and where we can find it. Circling Home is a very smooth read. The narrative is engaging, as Terry is a wonderful storyteller. I liked the author's account of her climbing Kilimanjaro, with many vivid details. Overall, Circling Home inspires us to embrace the adventures that life brings our way.