Eve Brown had always said that she wanted to go into the Peace Corps. Two years out of college, she figured it was time to take the plunge. With a boyfriend, she hardly expected to fall for her Peace Corps recruiter, but fall she did, and spent most of the months before her assignment trying to get him to love her so much that he begged her to stay. Of course, he did not, and off Eve went, if only to satisfy John’s expectations of her. She fled a year later, unable to cope with Ecuador, only to find herself heading to Uganda as John’s bride before very long, set on changing the world just a little bit.
This memoir is basically a joy to read. Eve’s life is spectacularly eventful and she writes about it with the proper touch of humor while somehow still conveying how different and difficult life in third-world countries is. In Ecuador, for example, Eve lives in the city and manages to see her friends quite frequently and gets luxuries sent from her family at home. Her life seems almost normal, until she interacts with the little lost boys, taking them home and giving them toothbrushes, or travels to one of the villages and sees all the rundown shacks without running water or toilets. Until the event which leads to her departure, Eve writes about everything with a light-hearted voice which makes her experience simultaneously scary and entertaining.
Similarly, her love story with John is serious but also hilarious. There is very little as funny as her Jewish mother asking her newly minted boyfriend if he’d shtupped her daughter yet, or Eve’s determination to get him to marry her. Somehow she even makes the stupidly hard separation of long distance relationships entertaining, which impressed me because I know how terrible it is and I could never write about it with any sort of humor.
I loved the book even more when Eve and John got to Uganda. I really felt like they were making some sort of little difference in those people’s lives and it was fascinating to read about a totally foreign culture; even more so to learn how they became completely accustomed to it and realized they couldn’t really feel at home again in the United States. It’s just so outside my experience but this memoir made me feel as though I could have been there too.
In short, I really loved First Comes Love, Then Comes Malaria. I love reading about women who are changing the world and accomplishing goals in their own ways, no matter how big or small the goals are. Eve tries to educate people about AIDS and even though she doesn’t always succeed, she does achieve many of her other goals throughout the book, as does her husband. It’s inspiring to read about them and I really recommend this to everyone.