Maps are Lines We Draw by Allison Coffelt

As a blans—not just white, but an outsider—Coffelt does her best to balance her ability to give to a population “there” with an awareness of Haiti’s historical perspective of her “here.” At the risk of symbolizing “the great white hope,” she spends three weeks following Dr. Jean Gardy Marius, founder of OSAPO, Organizasyon Sante Popile (Public Health Organization), plucking gently at the web of (in-)humanity that has created the Haiti of today.

Respectful and enlightening, perhaps filling in details of what the average Westerner knows of Haiti, Coffelt intersperses history and cultural influences with her travels and philosophical insight, even as she refuses to give her watch to a random Haitian woman who demands it. It’s a vivid scene indicative of the distance between “here” and “there.” However, with nary a transitional segue, the disparate parts of this memoir feel cut and pasted instead of interweaving Coffelt’s experience into the story of a country she fell in love with before she visited. Nevertheless, it’s an interesting read and worth it if only for her effort to shine her light upon Haiti. I was fortunate to receive a copy of this book through NetGalley.

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