Review of “Approach to Freetown (Lion Mountain)”, by Karan Henley Haugh


Approach to Freetown

Elizabeth is an artist—sensitive, free-spirited, and entirely at odds with what she wants.  In fact, she really isn’t too sure of what it is she actually does want.  Flitting from relationship to relationship, she thinks she has found what she is looking for—but then her lover starts reining her in, and she finds happiness slipping through her fingers once again.

Traveling with her current love, Peter Safford, she finds herself playing the role of wife (to keep from social disgrace, or so she is told) as they fly to Sierra Leone.  To Peter, it is just another business trip as a journalist.  But to Elizabeth, it becomes much more than that.

As she basks in the sunlight, roams the markets with her newfound friend, Kaila, and sees a world that is more open and accepting than she had ever experienced, she feels the conflict arise sharply—what she wants (self-acceptance for who she is) versus what Peter wants (marriage).  Nowhere is that dichotomy more strikingly apparent than when she is out doing what she loves most—painting the people and scenes around her.

She has much to go through, and much to leave behind.  And with the help of her newfound friends, she finds herself healing and able to start up the path toward self-love.

This book is filled to overflowing with such breathtakingly beautiful detail, and with so much depth and color, that I found something new between its pages every time I read it.  So much symbolism, even down to the font used in the text (big and loud for Peter, small and quiet for Elizabeth).  Even Freetown, where the story takes place, is a symbol for what Elizabeth is struggling to achieve.  Sights, sounds, tastes—the reader can find him- or herself transported to the hot African country of Sierra Leone almost instantly.  It is a fantastic story.  It isn’t hard to imagine book groups spending a lot of time reading and discussing Elizabeth, Peter, Kaila, and all the other characters that make this book a treasure.

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