To Paula Huntley's students it's Kosova, not Kosovo, like we Americans like to call that little war-torn country. That's just one of the changes Huntley had to get used to when she began teaching English to a group of Kosovar Albanians. Transplanted from her comfortable San Francisco life to Prishtina, Kosovo, Huntley began keeping a journal to express her struggles and triumphs in her new surroundings. Two years later, that same journal would be published as a book destined to be a bestseller.
Paula Huntley is the epitome of a great teacher --- one who goes above and beyond the call of duty to help her students succeed. One of her noble feats is organizing an extracurricular reading group for her students known as the Hemingway Book Club of Kosovo. As her students read Hemingway's THE OLD MAN AND THE SEA, the parallels between their lives and the life of the old man become increasingly evident to both Huntley and her students. Through their interaction, both Huntley and her students learn the lessons of perseverance, faith and hope.
THE HEMINGWAY BOOK CLUB OF KOSOVO offers much more than the typical memoir. Through Huntley's masterful writing and reflections, the reader experiences the horrors that her students lived through during the Serbian genocide of Kosovar Albanians. A timely reminder of what war does to a country, THE HEMINGWAY BOOK CLUB OF KOSOVO gives great insights into the injustices occurring throughout the world.
This book contains a myriad of emotions. It elicits laughter as Huntley and her students struggle to break down cultural and language barriers. It evokes tears as you read of the losses the Kosovars experienced. It makes you angry, fills you with hope and drowns you in sorrow --- all at the same time. But most of all, it makes you think about all of the things you take for granted that Paula Huntley's students only dream of.
Reviewed by Melissa Brown on January 22, 2011