Saturday, November 28, 2009

Book Review: Notes from My Travels by Angelina Jolie

When I heard that actress Angelina Jolie had published her diaries of some of her trips as a Goodwill Ambassador for the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), I was mildly interested. Especially when I read that she went to Ecuador and Cambodia, two countries I've visited myself. So when I saw a copy in the Diamond Villiage library in Lamu, I picked it up and started reading.

As she admits herself, Angelina is not a good writer. She tends to repeat herself and is vague on many of the pertinent details of her trips. What impressed me, however, is her willingness to fade into the background and give the spotlight to UN employees and the refugees themselves. She goes into hellholes that very few of us would be willing to endure and never makes a single complaint - all the name of greater awareness for the plight of refugees.

I don't have the book with me anymore, but a particular passage that has stuck with me is Jolie's mechanism for coping with extremely high temperatures - she simply thinks of opening her refrigerator back home and getting a blast of cold air. I'll have to try that next time I am in the sweltering heat.

An interesting aside - Angelina was recently in Kenya visiting the Dadaab refugee camp for displaced Somalis. The friends I was visiting in Kenya told me that their neighbor, Damien from New Zealand, works with UNHCR Kenya and met Angelina. During a neighborly Sunday cookout he told us about his experience with her and he confirmed that she is genuinely interested in improving refugees' lot, is exceedingly humble, and took time to get pictures with everyone who wanted one. Apparently Damien's picture with her hangs in a special place :)

NOTES FROM MY TRAVELS is available in paperback.

12 comments:

Viva La Fashion said...

wow. i didn't know that angelina had published a book. :)

Frankie Diane Mallis said...

I'm so glad that you reviewed this because I'd been looking at it on Amazon for a year and wondering if it was worth it. Sounds kind of like what I expected but probably worth a read. Thanks!

bermudaonion said...

Where haven't you been? I'm not a fan of Angelina Jolie, but I am a fan of the good work she does.

Mardel said...

This makes me feel a little better about Ms Jolie. That whole getting together with Brad Pitt thing really put me off her. It's good to hear that she has some good qualities. Human like the rest of us, though right? we all have good and bad points.

Amy said...

Well it's a relief to hear she's not a great writer. I mean seriously, she needs a few flaws. ;)

Linda said...

Years ago I thought that Angelina Jolie was a very strange person, but having learned about her dedication to those in need, I'm interested in learning more about her!

Alice Teh said...

I always have great admiration for Jolie and I think she's an incredible woman. This is one book I'd love to get my hands on and I'm glad you reviewed it. Thanks, Lenore!

kay - Infinite Shelf said...

Lol at Amy's comment! :P

I really want to read this one too. I admire her work and I am interested in reading her point of view.

Her mechanism against the warmth makes me laugh, because I do the same thing in reverse in the cold winter days, thinking of the beach and palm trees!

brizmus said...

I had no idea that this book existed. I'm so glad you reviewed it to bring it to my attention. Even if it's not well written, especially after reading your review, I would be very curious to read it.
thanks!

Kathleen said...

I've never heard of this book before which is hard to believe given Jolie's star status. I've always had the impression that her work with refugees was genuine and it seems that it is which is good to know!

Sadako said...

Looks great!

Glad to have you back from your trip. Blogosphere ain't the same without you, you know!

Zibilee said...

Very interesting looking book. I, too, had no idea that she had written a book.