Looking for the Lioness

A Safari to Myself

Non-Fiction - Adventure
184 Pages
Reviewed on 09/15/2020
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Author Biography

Mary Morrison became fascinated by travel at a young age and haunted the public library for true life adventure stories. Inspired, she took her first solo trip around the world at age 19 and kept going. She enjoys learning about other cultures and has done extensive volunteer work in Africa, Asia, and South America.

    Book Review

Reviewed by Foluso Falaye for Readers' Favorite

After years of a self-focused, living-to-work lifestyle that was further worsened by divorce and losing her job, Mary decided to take a new route by traveling to Africa to impact lives as a teacher and conquer herself and her fears. At almost sixty, Mary yearned for a new narrative, one involving uncertainties, nature, simplicity, and unearthing the treasure within: her inner lioness. Looking for the Lioness: A Safari to Myself is a true account of Mary Morrison's experiences of serene and beautiful landscapes, dangerous safaris that include lions and escaping enraged hippos, building wonderful memories with students and teachers she would remember for life, and a sharp change in living conditions that only the strong can survive.

It is always fun to see someone else's view of what you see as normal. Though some things about East Africa are strange to me as a Nigerian, we share some considerable similarities, which I was excited to learn about in Looking for the Lioness. In her expository book, Mary Morrison frankly explores her (American) culture's similarities and differences with the African culture she experienced. Her story is a deep look within, a desperate search for fulfillment advanced by a drastic change of environment. Looking for the Lioness presents a rich depiction of some parts of Tanzania, Rwanda, Zimbabwe, and Uganda. Learning about religious practices, educational systems, historical facts, living conditions, food, and lifestyles, in general, was an engaging and eye-opening experience. Buckle up for a wild-eyed, insightful, and exquisite adventure!

K.C. Finn

Looking for the Lioness: A Safari to Myself is a work of non-fiction in the memoir, self-help, and adventure sub-genres, and was penned by author Mary Morrison. This eye-opening and exciting volume introduces us to its author at a point in her life where she had experienced total loss and change. Mary makes a move to Africa to take up a teaching position and start a new life, but much of her old emotional baggage comes with her. What results is a beautiful tale of inner strength and transformation as her new life teaches her the lessons she needed to know about her true passion and destiny.

Author Mary Morrison shares a very touching and inspirational part of herself within these pages, and it makes for a raw, relatable, and highly uplifting reading experience by the time you reach the end. The atmosphere of the work is as lavish as fiction, putting us right there with Mary as she experiences another culture and the ups and downs it offers her. There’s much educational value and eye-opening to be done as we see the reality of life in less-privileged countries than our own too. But what stands out the most is the intimate emotional story of someone who feels deeply damaged and abandoned, picks themselves up to start again, and goes on to thrive. It’s this grit and determination that makes Looking for the Lioness a truly compelling read, and one I would recommend to anyone who needs the hope that future change is possible.

Romuald Dzemo

Looking for the Lioness: A Safari to Myself by Mary Morrison is a powerful memoir that follows a woman’s journey to finding herself. Mary is tired of life, having suffered family loss, divorce, and with a career that isn’t satisfying, she takes the bold step to start anew and to reinvent herself. Her years of caregiving as a mother and nurse and her low self-esteem, coupled with depression, are just a few issues that affect her life. She decides to travel to Africa as a teacher to reconnect with herself. But Africa isn’t a bed of roses as she quickly learns, surrounded by abject poverty, spiders and rats in her bed, shortage of water, and other challenges. The harsh conditions of life in Africa touch her deeply and transform her. When illness compels her to return to the West, she discovers, to her great surprise, that she is someone else.

Mary Morrison’s memoir is a wonderful story that features themes of travel, family dynamics, self-discovery, and adventure. The author does an impeccable job of establishing a powerful contrast between life in the West and in Africa. It is interesting that the protagonist has to go through an experience of pain and suffering to heal the pain in her soul. The descriptions of life in Africa are wonderful and cinematic and the author shares her personal stories with unusual honesty. Looking for the Lioness: A Safari to Myself is a mesmerizing and inspirational journey that the author makes to Africa and to herself, filled with insight and lessons in personal development and resilience.

Mary Jo Doig/Story Circle Book Reviews

“Sometimes you have to give a little push, one way or the other, to get past the depression, low self-esteem, unhealthy relationships, procrastination, or whatever is holding you back from living your best life.” Mary Morrison

Mary Morrison was an adventurous young woman who dreamed of traveling to exotic places to help the poor. She was, in 1961, fascinated by John F. Kennedy’s Peace Corps and during her teen years traveled with streams of her peers from Europe to India. When she entered college in Southern California, the world was shifting into the women’s liberation movement. Morrison saw herself as a flower child. She made her own love beads, used a little pot, demonstrated against the Vietnam war and on Earth Day. Life was truly all about peace and love. And then one day the cute guy she loved proposed and she accepted. Joyfully, they married, and soon welcomed a son. As Morrison transformed into family, then work and university commitments, her earlier dreams of travel slipped away.

We enter Morrison’s story at mid-life after she lost her job in the Great Recession, losing her husband and suffering other losses. As she honors her son Matthew’s achievements - “…a college dropout garnering Tony, Golden Globe, and Emmy nominations for his work. He was living his dream,” she looks at her own life: on unemployment, single again, and no dreams in sight.

Morrison revisits her youthful dreams and muses about returning to a Third World country as a volunteer teacher. But is she too old now? What if she gets sick? What if the living conditions are horrific? And many other questions she would not be able to answer until she decided to return to Africa. There, she learns those answers and so much more. Morrison’s safari is a beautiful, courageous, and fascinating adventure that opens the door to lost dreams and finding the lioness within.

I treasured this story throughout as Morrison persisted courageously in the face of very difficult challenges. Her hard-won wisdom was a pleasure to share as each gradually evolved on her journey. Her easy, candid voice evoked a sense of warm companionship. If you enjoy memoirs that show a woman finding her pathway to her best life, I highly recommend Looking for the Lioness, the author's first book. And please know that there are three final words in the last chapter: "...to be continued."


Part travelogue, part self-help, part memoir; enlightening, insightful, and entertaining, the writing crisp and concise. Once I started it, I didn't want to put it down. It's easy to identify with the author (even if you are male) as she explores her inner self in a strange and foreign setting that poses unforeseen challenges. A great read beginning to end.


Mary's story captured me from the first page. She has a way of telling her story without boring you to tears. I found her adventure fascinating. A great read for those who's lives have stalled.


Morrison's chronicle of her journey into the dark center of Africa was eye opening. I can't imagine living in such primitive conditions and tackling teaching ESL students with virtually no facilities. Her vivid descriptions of the environment and her situation were so captivating, I couldn't put the book down. Extremely enjoyable. I'm looking forward to reading her next book.

Lavonne Ayoub

This book captured my imagination immediately and I did not want to put it down! Mary’s story is full of adventures and encounters that demand self-introspection and honesty on all fronts. Beautifully written, her reflections reveal her bravery and her vulnerabilities in a way that is relatable and enjoyable - I enjoyed every moment! Amazing story!


Mary draws you into her adventure in Africa, deftly painting picture after picture with her words. It’s humbling to think how how much we have and take for granted in America. Mary’s journey is inspiring. Can’t wait for book two to find out how it ends.