May 15, 2013

Away from Home by Lillian Carter

Away from Home:
Letters to My Family

by Lillian Carter
and Gloria Carter Spann

"I didn't dream that in this remote corner of the world, so far way from the people and material things that I had always considered so necessary, I would discover what Life is really all about. Sharing yourself with others, and accepting their love for you, is the most precious gift of all."
Lillian Carter, RPCV India 66-68

Lillian Carter was one of the most loved and admired women in the country. Mother of a president, she was a strong, resolutely independent woman with a mind of her own, determined to bypass the barriers of age and sex. In these letters to her daughter Gloria that she wrote during her two-year stay in India as a Peace Corps volunteer, we hear the voice of a courageous woman with a sense of humor and an abiding integrity as well as curiosity, who welcomed new customs and fresh faces. Mrs. Carter discovers a determination that brings her peace within herself. And her readers take a daily walk with an extraordinary woman.

Mrs. Carter's letters reveal the ideals, commitment, and emotions of that early generation of Peace Corps volunteers. They are a powerful demonstration of why Jimmy Carter acknowledges the inspiration he drew from his mother, to follow her example.

I liked this book. The letters are very brief, so the book is a quick read. But I think she still manages to share her experiences as a Peace Corps volunteer in India from 1966 to 1968. She was far from home when she found out that first Martin Luther King and and then Bobby Kennedy were assassinated. And she celebrated her 70th birthday in India before finishing her service. I only wished she had written a postscript to tell a little about her feelings after coming home. Or maybe it was better just to let us imagine it. Definitely recommended.