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Maps Are Lines We Draw

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After a decade of dreaming, Allison Coffelt arrived in Haiti, ready--she thought--"to learn how much she didn't know" about the Caribbean nation. Traveling the highways with Dr. Jean Gardy Marius, founder of the public health organization OSAPO, she embarked on a life-changing journey that would weave Haiti's proud, tumultuous history and present reality into her life fore After a decade of dreaming, Allison Coffelt arrived in Haiti, ready--she thought--"to learn how much she didn't know" about the Caribbean nation. Traveling the highways with Dr. Jean Gardy Marius, founder of the public health organization OSAPO, she embarked on a life-changing journey that would weave Haiti's proud, tumultuous history and present reality into her life forever. Maps Are Lines We Draw explores the culture and natural beauty of the island as well as its discomfiting realities: the threat well-intentioned aid organizations can present to the local economy; the privilege that determines who gets to travel between a "here" and a distant "there" which is foreign and other; and the challenge of doing short-term good without creating long-lasting harm.


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After a decade of dreaming, Allison Coffelt arrived in Haiti, ready--she thought--"to learn how much she didn't know" about the Caribbean nation. Traveling the highways with Dr. Jean Gardy Marius, founder of the public health organization OSAPO, she embarked on a life-changing journey that would weave Haiti's proud, tumultuous history and present reality into her life fore After a decade of dreaming, Allison Coffelt arrived in Haiti, ready--she thought--"to learn how much she didn't know" about the Caribbean nation. Traveling the highways with Dr. Jean Gardy Marius, founder of the public health organization OSAPO, she embarked on a life-changing journey that would weave Haiti's proud, tumultuous history and present reality into her life forever. Maps Are Lines We Draw explores the culture and natural beauty of the island as well as its discomfiting realities: the threat well-intentioned aid organizations can present to the local economy; the privilege that determines who gets to travel between a "here" and a distant "there" which is foreign and other; and the challenge of doing short-term good without creating long-lasting harm.

30 review for Maps Are Lines We Draw

  1. 4 out of 5

    Erin

    Thanks to NetGalley for an advanced ARC in exchange for an honest review I can tell that the author was deeply affected by her time in Haiti and desires the reading audience to be affected too. However, the writing of this travel memoir constantly distracted me and even though I finished it, I cannot get over the fact that it was too disjointed for me to thoroughly enjoy.

  2. 4 out of 5

    The Bookish Austin

    I was provided an ARC of this book from the publisher for an honest review. I will start by saying this is not the type of book I would typically reach for (I'm a big fan of fiction, especially fantasy and sci-fi) but this book intrigued me from the beginning. Do you know when you meet someone for the first time and you feel like you know absolutely nothing about them? Then one hour, two weeks, three months and four years later from your meeting you finally begin to see how their life story in I was provided an ARC of this book from the publisher for an honest review. I will start by saying this is not the type of book I would typically reach for (I'm a big fan of fiction, especially fantasy and sci-fi) but this book intrigued me from the beginning. Do you know when you meet someone for the first time and you feel like you know absolutely nothing about them? Then one hour, two weeks, three months and four years later from your meeting you finally begin to see how their life story intertwines with your own. That fate just so had it that you were both in each others' lives way before your first meeting. "Oh my goodness, you were at that concert? - I was there!" or "No way! You grew up in _____? I lived just ten minutes away!" That's what reading this book was like for me. Allison Coffelt interweaves her teenage past to her mid-twenties self as she experiences, explores, researches, and lives the connections between here and there. She tells a story about the interconnectedness of her world with that of Haiti, from economics to public health to family gardening plots. Coffelt leads us through her own nonlinear process of connecting the dots like someone pulling together the ideas around a single object into one schema; like lines on a map that lead us from one point to the next, and then leave us to ponder how they came to be in the first place.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Kirsty

    Throughout Maps Are Lines We Draw, Allison Coffelt rather briefly details a trip which she takes across Haiti, along with Dr. Jean Gardy Marius, founder of the public health organisation OSAPO. In Haiti, she writes, 'she embarked on a life-changing journey that would weave Haiti's proud, tumultuous history and present reality into her life forever.' Maps Are Lines We Draw is rather a short travel memoir, told using an entirely fragmented style which weaves together experiences from Coffelt's trip Throughout Maps Are Lines We Draw, Allison Coffelt rather briefly details a trip which she takes across Haiti, along with Dr. Jean Gardy Marius, founder of the public health organisation OSAPO. In Haiti, she writes, 'she embarked on a life-changing journey that would weave Haiti's proud, tumultuous history and present reality into her life forever.' Maps Are Lines We Draw is rather a short travel memoir, told using an entirely fragmented style which weaves together experiences from Coffelt's trip, childhood memories, and many facts about Haiti. Whilst it was interesting enough to read about her trip, there was quite a jarring edge to the structure. I found it quite bitty and inconsistent due to the seemingly randomly placed fragments of thought and memory. The author uses a lot of quotes from various guides, but there is rarely an exploration of them; rather, they feel like random appendages which have been placed willy-nilly in order to make up a wordcount in a GCSE essay. At several points, it read simply like a factbook. I love the fragmented style of prose when it is used in fiction, but I do not feel as though it works well with regard to non-fiction. There needs to be an overarching, controlled structure for works such as this. Only the sections on Haiti's history have been approached well. Whilst Maps Are Lines We Draw is enlightening in some ways, it is markedly problematic and frustrating in others.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Greg Soden

    I loved this succinct exploration and meditation of a complicated topic.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Samantha Snavely

    I was provided an ARC of this book from the publisher for an honest review. I was truly impressed with this book. I read a variety of genres and rarely do I find books that transcend these specific genres so seamlessly. This book is a sort of love letter in my mind. The author clearly loves language as well as her experiences in Haiti. Language is so specific and determined in this book. It is well thought out in a way that I don't often see. The words are chosen in a really poetic fashion whic I was provided an ARC of this book from the publisher for an honest review. I was truly impressed with this book. I read a variety of genres and rarely do I find books that transcend these specific genres so seamlessly. This book is a sort of love letter in my mind. The author clearly loves language as well as her experiences in Haiti. Language is so specific and determined in this book. It is well thought out in a way that I don't often see. The words are chosen in a really poetic fashion which made it so touching and powerful. The book does jump around a lot. Many of the ideas are touched upon and then left for a while. Everything ends up back together which is part of an important thread in the meaning of the book. This style took a lot of focus but everything is acknowledged an addressed in the end. For such a short read, there is definitely a lot to be uncovered. I had a lot of fears going into writing a review for this book. I am not a qualified source to speak on Haiti or its complex history. I feared how much sensitivity would have to be involved on the part of myself as well as the author. There is a lot to be said about foreign aid and the white savior complex. Allison Coffelt completely acknowledged those fears in her own writing. She looked at the part that she plays in multiple lenses. It was skillfully done. She never sidestepped hard issues and she made sure to incorporate many experiences. One of the lines that I really loved, right on the first page, was, "I am here for myself, really, to keep learning how much I don't know". The book is for anyone who is in love with language. Lines are drawn in the form of maps, history, culture, and people. This is a remarkable book. I definitely recommend it.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Neil

    I received a free copy via Netgalley in exchange for a honest review. Although I managed to finish this it felt very disjointed. Jumping from one point to another. Thankfully the book is fairly short.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Lilian

    Through this memoir, Allison chronicles her three-week road trip through Haiti with the guidance of Haitian Dr Gardy founder of non-profit OSAPO: Organizasyon Sante Popilé or Public Health Organisation. Like many young people who desire to work in development realm, she was inspired by her high school public health teacher and the book Mountains beyond Mountains to make a difference in the world..starting with Haiti. Coffelt's quick-witted and yet accommodating tone tells her story through a mix Through this memoir, Allison chronicles her three-week road trip through Haiti with the guidance of Haitian Dr Gardy founder of non-profit OSAPO: Organizasyon Sante Popilé or Public Health Organisation. Like many young people who desire to work in development realm, she was inspired by her high school public health teacher and the book Mountains beyond Mountains to make a difference in the world..starting with Haiti. Coffelt's quick-witted and yet accommodating tone tells her story through a mix of flashbacks, historical facts and definitions which her own commentary which she justifies by saying "Vocabulary is based in history". She is an example of those authors who do a wonderful job of showing and not telling through her prose. This book will remind the reader that human beings are prisoners of geography (another book on my TBR shelf )-lines are drawn people who are not even alive to see the implications of their power-sharing agreements. Maps are lines we draw poignantly highlights historical injustices committed against the Haiti,  trade imbalances associated, health issues as well as environmental issues. She acknowledges the great divide that is associated with the labels which she consistently circles back to with phrases like here versus there. "In his historical analysis of travel writing, James Buzard highlights a pattern of the self-interrupting form. It is part of a larger distinction between the traveler and the tourist, a label difference that hinges largely on perceived authenticity." Apparently, "it became an expected feature" for travel writers to separate themselves from "tourist-serving institutions...by self-consciously demonstrating independence from them." The desire to separate is not a new one Most people tend to think of travelling to developing countries in order to make a difference and to some extent ease their consciences about making the world a better especially in the form of voluntourism. It is human.  However, she subtly cautions that good intentions are not enough to make a difference: "The word travel comes travail, as in "bodily or mental labor or toil, especially of a painful or oppressive nature." In other words: work, for both mind and  body." I was immediately drawn to this book on Netgalley because of its title. I have never been to Haiti and was definitely curious about it. Unfortunately, I have only heard about it in negative contexts such as the 2010 earthquake and Hurricane Matthew in late 2016. I would recommend this book to anyone interested in developing countries and some of the issues that plague them especially with regard to international aid. Subtly  Coffelt cautions that good intentions are not enough to make a difference. that while travelling is an opportunity. You can sample an excerpt from her book through the essay Bodies of Water recently adapted for Still Harbor

  8. 5 out of 5

    Aman Mittal

    Maps are Lines We Draw is Allison Coffelt's travel memoir. The book that is actually a novella, deciphers the culture of Haiti. I picked this book because of the cover and the title mainly. They both compliment each other and is a good attraction. Little did I know of Allison's writing style at that time. The blurb of the book describes author's visit to the beautiful island, where beautiful means beautiful for the people of Haiti, as she recalls in the starting pages of her memoir. She is accomp Maps are Lines We Draw is Allison Coffelt's travel memoir. The book that is actually a novella, deciphers the culture of Haiti. I picked this book because of the cover and the title mainly. They both compliment each other and is a good attraction. Little did I know of Allison's writing style at that time. The blurb of the book describes author's visit to the beautiful island, where beautiful means beautiful for the people of Haiti, as she recalls in the starting pages of her memoir. She is accompanied by a local doctor Jean Gardy Marius is the founder of a public health organization OSAPO. She tries to explore the island itself and everything it constitutes of, the people, their culture, recalls in between which I found very helpful as I was unfamiliar with the tumultuous history. Along being the ordinary travel memoir, it also spotlights the reality in which how aid organizations are trying to help the local economy. This makes this book unique and interesting. What more unique I found in this book is Allison, the author's writing style. The way she spread words for the reader has lasting charm. It is because of her writing style I could not put this book down and had to read it in one go. In the end, it left me a feeling that I can best describe as a longing for a travel and weave my own memories. 4 out of 5

  9. 5 out of 5

    Rebecca

    A big thank you to NetGalley and Lanternfish Press for providing me with a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. This short travel memoir can be summed up by a Haitian maxim that the author cites quite early on in the text: "The rock in the water does not know the pain of the rock in the sun." Coffelt offers a good introduction to Haitian history and culture through the eyes of a visitor. The almost vignette style of writing works in many chapters, though there are some moments tha A big thank you to NetGalley and Lanternfish Press for providing me with a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. This short travel memoir can be summed up by a Haitian maxim that the author cites quite early on in the text: "The rock in the water does not know the pain of the rock in the sun." Coffelt offers a good introduction to Haitian history and culture through the eyes of a visitor. The almost vignette style of writing works in many chapters, though there are some moments that are a bit choppy because the author is sharing so much information about development issues and working in Haiti while also attempting to describe the beauty of the landscape and the stories of different people who cross her path. I nevertheless enjoyed this little book, though I felt that the author's continuous references to otherness and the whole spatial "here and there" theme were heavy-handed. The most thought-provoking section for me focused on the aftermath of the 2010 earthquake and more specifically about UN ineptitude and the ensuing cholera outbreak. Coffelt does an excellent job of concisely framing a number of issues and I was surprised at how moved I felt while reading about her time in Haiti.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Lael Braday

    As a blans—not just white, but an outsider—Coffelt does her best to balance her ability to give to a population “there” with an awareness of Haiti’s historical perspective of her “here.” At the risk of symbolizing “the great white hope,” she spends three weeks following Dr. Jean Gardy Marius, founder of OSAPO, Organizasyon Sante Popile (Public Health Organization), plucking gently at the web of (in-)humanity that has created the Haiti of today. Respectful and enlightening, perhaps filling in deta As a blans—not just white, but an outsider—Coffelt does her best to balance her ability to give to a population “there” with an awareness of Haiti’s historical perspective of her “here.” At the risk of symbolizing “the great white hope,” she spends three weeks following Dr. Jean Gardy Marius, founder of OSAPO, Organizasyon Sante Popile (Public Health Organization), plucking gently at the web of (in-)humanity that has created the Haiti of today. Respectful and enlightening, perhaps filling in details of what the average Westerner knows of Haiti, Coffelt intersperses history and cultural influences with her travels and philosophical insight, even as she refuses to give her watch to a random Haitian woman who demands it. It’s a vivid scene indicative of the distance between “here” and “there.” However, with nary a transitional segue, the disparate parts of this memoir feel cut and pasted instead of interweaving Coffelt’s experience into the story of a country she fell in love with before she visited. Nevertheless, it’s an interesting read and worth it if only for her effort to shine her light upon Haiti. I was fortunate to receive a copy of this book through NetGalley.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Robby Jones

    I really enjoyed this book. A) I learned a lot about the history of Haiti and the role of Western influence in shaping it's complicated and often heartbreaking past B) I learned about the ways in which "aid" often hampers economic growth and exacerbates poverty despite the good intentions of those who provide it C) I enjoyed hearing the authors personal thoughts on the white savior complex of those who often visit developing countries, her "am I part of the problem?" inner dialogue. It was very tho I really enjoyed this book. A) I learned a lot about the history of Haiti and the role of Western influence in shaping it's complicated and often heartbreaking past B) I learned about the ways in which "aid" often hampers economic growth and exacerbates poverty despite the good intentions of those who provide it C) I enjoyed hearing the authors personal thoughts on the white savior complex of those who often visit developing countries, her "am I part of the problem?" inner dialogue. It was very thought-provoking and honest. Would definitely recommend this book to people who are curious about visiting Haiti, particularly on a "mission trip" etc. I think this would be very helpful to read ahead of time.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Jan

    One part travel writing, another part prose poetry, this thoughtful and lyrical examination of the author's short-term public health service in Haiti features compelling storytelling about the tragic events in the country's history and transports the reader from the particular into the universal in the global south - on one hand, the unintended consequences that may occur when aid groups seed dependency rather than self-sufficiency, and on the other, the remarkable resilience and community cohes One part travel writing, another part prose poetry, this thoughtful and lyrical examination of the author's short-term public health service in Haiti features compelling storytelling about the tragic events in the country's history and transports the reader from the particular into the universal in the global south - on one hand, the unintended consequences that may occur when aid groups seed dependency rather than self-sufficiency, and on the other, the remarkable resilience and community cohesion among people living in conditions of extreme poverty.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Roberta Tabanelli

    If you look for a traditional memoir or the account of a 'Road Trip,' as the subtitle of Coffelt's book indicates, "Maps Are Lines We Draw" is probably not for you. But if you want to read a personal but also political reflection on poverty, beauty, cultural differences, privilege, help, exploitation, resilience and humanity that is beautifully written, don't miss this book. The fragmented form and Allison's lyrical style forge a very peculiar piece of non-fiction writing. If you look for a traditional memoir or the account of a 'Road Trip,' as the subtitle of Coffelt's book indicates, "Maps Are Lines We Draw" is probably not for you. But if you want to read a personal but also political reflection on poverty, beauty, cultural differences, privilege, help, exploitation, resilience and humanity that is beautifully written, don't miss this book. The fragmented form and Allison's lyrical style forge a very peculiar piece of non-fiction writing.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Jeanette Blain

    The descriptive writing in Maps are Lines We Draw is superb, however, the narrative is a bit choppy. Coffelt, also, flirts with some deeper ideas that could have been explored in more depth. At 144 pages, this book had room to grow. Would love to see more from this author. Disclosure: I received a digital ARC of this book in exchange for honest feedback. #MapsareLinesWeDraw #NetGalley

  15. 5 out of 5

    Rachel Stansel

    Overall, I appreciated the thought provoking history of Haiti. While I knew some of this, the author presents a different perspective on the island and in the way humanitarian efforts effect it's people. I found the writing to be very fragmented. I understood the effort to breakup the history with personal stories, but this could have been done more smoothly. Full disclosure - I received a copy of the book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. Overall, I appreciated the thought provoking history of Haiti. While I knew some of this, the author presents a different perspective on the island and in the way humanitarian efforts effect it's people. I found the writing to be very fragmented. I understood the effort to breakup the history with personal stories, but this could have been done more smoothly. Full disclosure - I received a copy of the book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Ann

    A slender but mighty debut. Read it for new perspective on Haiti and on the challenge of doing short-term service without leaving long-term damage. Read it, too, for its poetry and thought-provoking lines. See my full review: https://themuseumofamericana.net/alli... A slender but mighty debut. Read it for new perspective on Haiti and on the challenge of doing short-term service without leaving long-term damage. Read it, too, for its poetry and thought-provoking lines. See my full review: https://themuseumofamericana.net/alli...

  17. 5 out of 5

    Kate Billman

    A lot of poignant sentiment throughout the book, but the writing style often felt forced, distracting, and disjointed. There are, however, many thought provoking examples of well-intentioned aid going amiss due to lack of forethought that will stick with me on my own journey to positively impacting the world we live in.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Isla McKetta

    If you're looking for a travel memoir that goes beyond the standard "I went somewhere exotic and changed my life" this book might be for you. I consider how far Coffelt goes beyond that trope (and how successfully) in my full review. If you're looking for a travel memoir that goes beyond the standard "I went somewhere exotic and changed my life" this book might be for you. I consider how far Coffelt goes beyond that trope (and how successfully) in my full review.

  19. 5 out of 5

    Nadia

    I very much enjoyed this book!

  20. 4 out of 5

    Kyle Hess

  21. 4 out of 5

    Kristin

  22. 4 out of 5

    Lori Johnson

  23. 5 out of 5

    Patti

  24. 4 out of 5

    Kara LaFleur

  25. 4 out of 5

    Connor

  26. 5 out of 5

    Leila

  27. 5 out of 5

    Anca

  28. 4 out of 5

    Janeene

  29. 4 out of 5

    Andy Larsen

  30. 5 out of 5

    Feliza Casano

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