The House at Sugar Beach

Published 1:56 pm Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Helene Cooper is a woman at the top of her game. As a journalist for the New York Times, she attends White House press conferences so frequently she’s typically the first to get President Barack Obama’s attention.

Her memoir “The House at Sugar Beach” will capture your attention.

“The House at Sugar Beach” was a real house, once a home. Cooper grew up in the 22–room house in Liberia.

A member of a privileged family with relatives in high government positions, she went from wealth to seeing her uncle murdered on live television.

In 1980 at the age of 16, she and her family fled civil war in Liberia with nothing but one suitcase each. The family started life over in North Carolina.

Something terrible happened in the house at Sugar Beach. Something so terrible Cooper shut the door on those memories. Twenty years later, she returned to Liberia to face the truth.

Cooper’s memories of what happened that day at the house are central to the book. It took a near death experience covering the war in Iraq to compel her to return to Liberia.

“The House at Sugar Beach” is a true story of a mother’s unconditional love and sacrifice for her children so they will survive intact.

Martin Luther King Jr. once said, “I believe that unarmed truth and unconditional love will have the final word in reality.”

Cooper’s mother demonstrates unconditional love.

Her daughter seeks unarmed truth to find peace with reality. This book does not flinch from the truth.

And facing the truth is what makes Cooper an extraordinary journalist.

Reviewer: Kathy Lowe is the Reference and Instruction Librarian at the University of Montevallo.