Blog Entries

The Brown Girl World: Helene's Story

Wednesday, February 17, 2010
Helene Cooper is "Congo," a descendant of two Liberian dynasties - traced back to the first ship of freemen that set sail from New York in 1820 to found Monrovia.  Helene grew up at Sugar Beach, a twenty-two-room mansion by the sea.  Her childhood was filled with servants, flashy cars, a villa in Spain, and a farmhouse up-country.  It was also an African childhood, filled with knock foot games and hot pepper soup, heartmen and neegee.  When Helene was eight, the Coopers took in a foster child - a common custom among the Liberian elite.  Eunice, a Bassa girl, suddenly became know as "Mrs. Cooper's daughter."
For years the Cooper daughters - Helene, her sister Marlene, and Eunice - blissfully enjoyed the trappings of wealth and advantage.  But Liberia was like an unwatched pot of water left boiling on the stove.  And on April 12, 1980, a group of soliders staged a coup d'etat, assassinating President William Tolbert and executing his cabinet.  The Coopers and the entire Congo class were now the hunted, being imprisoned, shot, tortured, and raped.  After a brutal daylight attack by a ragtag crew of soldiers, Helene, Marlene, and their mother fled Sugar Beach, and then Liberia, for America.  They left Eunice behind.
A world away, Helene tried to assimilate as an American teenager.  At the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill she found her passion in journalism, eventually becoming a reporter for the Wall Street Journal and the New York Times.  She reported from every part of the globe - except Africa - as Liberia descended into war-torn, third-world hell.
In 2003, a near-death experience in Iraq convinced Helene that Liberia - and Eunice - could wait no longer.
At once a deeply personal memoir and an examination of a violent and stratified country, The House at Sugar Beach: In Search of a Lost African Childhood tells of tragedy, forgiveness, and transcendence with unflinching honesty and a survivor's gentle humor.  And at it's heart, it is a story of Helene Cooper's long voyage home.



Looking For A Speaker to Chat With Your Youth Group About The World of Travel? Book Tracey today!

Looking For A Speaker to Chat With Your Youth Group About The World of Travel? Book Tracey today!
Please send inquiries to Complimentary passport photos for all of the kids in your group! Photo: Paris, France (2012)

The Danger of a Single Story

It's a Carnival!

Just finished reading...

Just finished reading...
5 Stars!


The Chit Chat is going down on Facebook!

The Chit Chat is going down on Facebook!
1700+ OBG Advocates!

Travel Enthusiasts Use Social Media...

On the OBG Bookshelf

Blog Archive

Fortune Enough to Travel?

The Sweetest Trip Around The World...

Copyright © 2010 • Tracey Friley's® - Culture. Diversity. Humanity. Travel. • All rights reserved