About the book:
Once in Africa, I kissed a king…
“And just like that, in an old red barn at the foothills of Mount Kilimanjaro, I discovered the elusive magic I had only ever glimpsed between the pages of great love stories. It fluttered around me like a newly born butterfly and settled in a corner of my heart. I held my breath, afraid to exhale for fear it would slip out, never to be found again.”
When a bomb explodes in a mall in East Africa, its aftershocks send two strangers on a collision course that neither one sees coming.
Jack Warden, a divorced coffee farmer in Tanzania, loses his only daughter. An ocean away, in the English countryside, Rodel Emerson loses her only sibling.
Two ordinary people, bound by a tragic afternoon, set out to achieve the extraordinary, as they make three stops to rescue three children across the vast plains of the Serengeti—children who are worth more dead than alive.
But even if they beat the odds, another challenge looms at the end of the line. Can they survive yet another loss—this time of a love that’s bound to slip through their fingers, like the mists that dissipate in the light of the sun?
“Sometimes you come across a rainbow story—one that spans your heart. You might not be able to grasp it or hold on to it, but you can never be sorry for the color and magic it brought.”
A blend of romance and women’s fiction, Mists of The Serengeti is inspired by true events and contains emotional triggers, including the death of a child. Not recommended for sensitive readers. Standalone, contemporary fiction.
Release Date: 31st January, 2017
What I think?
This review is my feelings (or what was left of them) on 27th January, 2017- a day after I finished reading this book.
I lost my bones and mind in the folds of The Paper Swan. I left my heart- ragged and tattered, somewhere between the pages of 53 Letters for my Lover. After that, I didn’t think that I had any part of me left to lose to Attar’s words.
I couldn’t have been more wrong.
Yesterday, I knew before getting into this book, that there was a possibility that I might not be the same after reading it. I was so right.
“Will I miss you?” He lifted his head and looked at me. “Like a dream that starves and curls up beneath my bones.”
This book was so different from Attar’s other two books, that it took my heart with a storm. The very beginning of the book is laced with a heavy dose of tragedy, and if you think that “waa waa, it didn’t make me cry”, then just wait. Wait because that was not the part that was supposed to make you cry. It was the aftermath that was.
“When you lose someone you love, it doesn’t end with that event, or with their funeral, or with their name on the tombstone. You lose them again and again, every day, in small moments that catch you off guard.”
Jack and Ro meet during their most vulnerable moments- when both of them are mourning the person they love- both lost to that single tragedy that tied every character in the book together. It couldn’t have been more painful of a circumstance to meet under, and yet at the same time, I couldn’t help but feel like this was it, there is no going back.
Ro, an elementary school teacher from England, had come to Africa to get all of Mo, her sister’s stuff from the hostel, where she had lived, when she runs into three post it notes- with three names, three dates, and three places- of three children who were hunted for reasons Ro was yet to know. All she knew was that her sister had been helping rescue these children before she died, and now it was up to her to finish her sister’s incomplete task.
If only she knew.
Looking for some clues about someone who might know about Mo and her mystery companion Gabriel, Ro runs into Anna, Gabriel’s sister, who in turn gives Ro the responsibility of taking care of, and delivering Gabriel’s daughter Scholastica to a foster home and school for Albino children in Wanza.
And then the rest is, as they say- history.
“It was a heavy, heaving laughter with big, gasping breaths in-between, unlike anything I’d ever heard before. Then the gasps grew louder, and I realized why it sounded so odd. I had never heard someone laughing in pain, and Jack Warden was doubled over with it, weeping and laughing in the same breath.”
I can’t tell you how hard my heart was beating when Ro finally met Jack, because the last time we saw Jack it was kind of a cliff hanger about what had happened to him.
Jack Warden was a coffee farmer in the heart of Africa, who had lost his only daughter- Lily, to the Kilimani Mall bombings. Needless to say he was very grief stricken when Ro first met him, and was kind of an asshole. Well no “kind of“, he was an asshole that completely made me cry in first few moments of meeting with him.
“We had found a pocket of quiet, where all the ghosts in our minds had gone to sleep, and we were the only two people awake.”
But then Ro and Jack united under a cause, both searching for peace and redemption by saving the three children. But on their journey, they find so much more than they could’ve imagined- challenges that they had not foreseen, the weight of the lives of more children than they had set out to save, and a love that transcended time.
A love that they couldn’t yet come to accept, because that’s what sorrow does to you. It steals your ability to accept.
“There is a special kind of hell that comes with remembering, in full-blown Technicolor detail, a kiss that never happened.”
Every detail in the book felt so delicately carved- every action, every consequence seemed to bring those two together in impossible ways just to tear them apart again and again. I can’t even tell you the state of my heart by the time they got together the first time, and I saw that I had reached 80% of the book. Attar has a track record of pushing you over the cliff at around that time in her books, so naturally I was very apprehensive, and wasn’t willing to read further because I didn’t know how much I could take at that point.
“Kiss me hard, then let me go.”
Can I just say that I hated when Ro moved back to England? Because I really fucking hated when she moved back to England. I think I would have lost all faith in love if she had moved on. I just couldn’t at that point.
But that is not what happened! And THANK GOD! I literally wanted to like fall on my knees and thank Attar for not doing that to me.
When Jack comes for Ro, I swear to god that moment was so beautiful that I couldn’t help but literally start weeping. I am not a very sensitive person, really. Things don’t affect me much, or make me teary in general. But that speech was so goddamn haunting, that it just struck me. It probably didn’t help that it was my time of the month, and I was already hormonal, but I was a mess in the end.
For a minute or two there I was ready to cheat on my very monogamous relationship with Troy (yes that Troy, from 53 Letters), and I don’t cheat on Troy with anyone. I mean anyone. But for Jack, I almost did. And who knows, I still might. You just gotta take my word on it and read the book to get hit with his words, because really. Trust me on this.
“Have you ever sat across from someone, fully clothed, and felt them slowly unbutton your heart?”
And that epilogue! Holy shit! I DID NOT SEE THAT COMING! Now that is how you end a book, and make sure your readers are still begging for more.
This book is easily going to my favorite books of all time list- right next to 53 Letters for my Lover. And I can’t wait to buy a paperback, because somehow the experience of reading a book gets enhanced from that..? I don’t know, I just know that I already know what I am buying myself for my b-day this year.
At this point do I really need to say anything about Attar’s writing? I don’t think I’ve highlighted so much in my entire reading life. Every word was so damn perfect. Isn’t that already evident from this review that I love her so much that I’m about to stalk her for life? There is a reason she’s my favorite author people, and you just have to read this book to know it.
Because yesterday, she broke my soul with this book.
“This is what it looks like when you wander somewhere between the sand and stardust, and meet a piece of yourself in someone else.”
“You missed a spot,” I said, pointing out the smudges on the glass.
“They’re not smudges,” he said. “They’re Lily’s fingerprints. She was eating chocolate that day. When we got to the mall, my phone rang. She came around to my side and put her hand here. Like this…” He hovered his fingertips over the marks. “One, two, three, four, five. See? Five perfect little chocolate prints. I haven’t washed them since. Every time I look out of the window, I see Lily there, holding her palm to the glass, making faces at me.”
Whenever Jack spoke of Lily, his entire profile softened. In those moments, his innately captivating presence was like a flame, kindled from within. For a second, I was completely jealous, because I had never lived in someone’s heart like that. And I wanted to. I wanted to make someone, someday, glow like that when they thought of me.
As Jack put the hose away, I realized that it wasn’t true. I didn’t want someone, someday. I wanted now. Today. And I wanted it with Jack.
No matter how many reasons I gave myself not to, I was falling for Jack Warden, more and more, with each passing day.
—Get the book—
About the author:
Leylah Attar writes stories about love – shaken, stirred, and served with a twist. Sometimes she disappears into the black hole of the internet, but can usually be enticed out with chocolate. Leylah is a New York Times, USA Today, and Wall Street Journal bestselling author of contemporary romance/women’s fiction.