Chameleon Days

Chameleon DaysOpening Lines: Chameleon Days

“As we left the Addis Ababa airport and started across the city, my brother Johnathan and I stared out the windows of the Volkswagen van like dazed astronauts.  He was six and I was only three, but we were both old enough to sense that life might never be the same.  A torrent of brown-skinned aliens streamed by on both sides, treating the road like a giant sidewalk, their white shawls and bright head wraps bobbing as they weaved around each other.  Donkeys and oxen bumped into the van, whipped along by barefoot men in ballooning shorts. . .”

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Praise for Chameleon Days from Publishers Weekly

Starred Review. In 1964, three-year-old Bascom and his two brothers were uprooted from Kansas via Missouri by their missionary parents and taken to the family’s personal Oz—Ethiopia. Bascom’s father was a doctor, and the family went first to an established mission hospital in Soddo, then in 1967 to a nascent outpost in Liemo. In Ethiopia, Tim and his older brother, Johnathan, attended boarding school—American children walled in from their African neighbors. Bascom’s recollections of moments and conversations from his childhood are narrated with delightful wonder. Memories of a pet chameleon, a banquet with the emperor, the descent of winged termites, a hideaway high in an avocado tree and the cry of hyenas outside the bedroom window on Christmas Eve are apt to remind adult readers of their own less exotic youthful discoveries and stoke the imaginations of older children and young adults. Such precision in voice earned Bascom the Bread Loaf Writer’s Conference Bakeless Prize, and his smartly naïve observations grow more sophisticated as the country succumbs to political unrest in the 1970s and missionary life becomes uncertain. Nostalgic but not overwrought, Bascom’s memoir is accented with casual family snapshots like ribbons on the gift of a gently captured place in time.
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