Sleeping with Lions: A
Year in Tanzania by Lee Anne McIlroy is a nonfiction narrative that will
irresistibly appeal to fans of travel books and memoirs. Lee Anne is a linguist
and a single mother who once worked in Africa as a young woman. When she gets
the second opportunity to return to East Africa, she delightfully seizes it.
What follows is an exciting, rollicking ride that transports readers alongside
her exceptional adventure to exotic places, lush natural beauty, and rich
cultures. She lives on the shores of Lake Victoria in Tanzania, with four
priests in Bukoba, where she teaches at a college while collaborating with an
African researcher and poet. Her journey is one of the genuine encounters with
different cultures as she travels to places like Kilwa, the Serengeti Desert,
In Sleeping with Lions: A Year in Tanzania, Lee Anne McIlroy paints a dazzling portrait of East Africa, inviting readers to contemplate the beauty of the natural landscapes, the wildlife, the history and culture of the people, and what it means to be genuinely human. The writing is, in itself, a work of sheer beauty, highly descriptive, and filled with stunning imagery. While the author celebrates the encounters with the characters in this wonderful book, she also shares her reflections about life and motherhood and lessons learned from her unique experiences. For instance, moments like her encounter with the monkey and child and the bird that flies before her are very significant and symbolic. No wonder she writes about the bird: “As I reveled in that bird’s flight, I realized that I would never find what I was looking for by holding anyone or anything else back from moving on.” The setting comes to life in this memoir, and it is inventive; the characters are fully drawn, and the writing is enriched by the author's perceptive gaze and ability to weave powerful insights into the story. A deeply moving story that makes anyone wants to pack their luggage and visit Tanzania, this book is a gorgeous offering for fans of travel memoirs and readers longing to discover Africa.