St. John, Lauren. rainbow’s end: A Memoir of Childhood, War and an African Farm. New York: Scribner, 2007.
Reason read: December 4th used to be Shangani Day in Rhodesia.
Rainbow’s End is a 1000 acre farm and game preserve in Rhodesia. In the fall of 1978 eleven year old Lauren St. John moves there with her family. This is during the dying, yet bloody, last stages of the Rhodesian Bush War. Rainbow’s End isn’t just a sprawling farm, it is also the scene of a bloody massacre less than a year earlier. The blood evidence still lingered.
Because Lauren’s coming of age years coincided with her time on the Rainbow’s End farm and the end of Rhodesia her memoir is part teenage angst biography and part commentary on the the war and its politics. Was it about Communism versus democracy or black against white? What makes Rainbow’s End so interesting is Lauren’s perception of being white in newly formed Zimbabwe after Independence and the realization she has been loving a war for all the wrong reasons.
There is no doubt of Rhodesia’s untamed beauty.
A line I liked, “Then I relocated to the sofa where I had my new books fanned around me like lives waiting to be lived” (p 48). As an aside, I can remember doing that same thing when I was a kid. I’d put the books in a row and pick one based on where I wanted to go next.
Author fact: St. John has also written a few sports books. None of them are on my list.
Book trivia: rainbow’s end includes a smattering of non-personal (if you don’t count the cover) photographs and a couple of maps. Interestingly enough, one of the maps includes “hippo pools.” Oh goody.
Nancy said: nada. She just listed it for the chapter.
BookLust Twist: from Book Lust To Go in the chapter called “Zipping Through Zambia/Roaming Rhodesia” (p 269).