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Publisher's Summary

Don't Let's Go to the Dogs Tonight meets Mean Girls in this funny, insightful fish-out-of-water memoir about a young girl coming of age half in a "baboon camp" in Botswana, half in a ritzy Philadelphia suburb.

Keena Roberts split her adolescence between the wilds of an island camp in Botswana and the even more treacherous halls of an elite Philadelphia private school. In Africa, she slept in a tent, cooked over a campfire, and lived each day alongside the baboon colony her parents were studying. She could wield a spear as easily as a pencil, and it wasn't unusual to be chased by lions or elephants on any given day. But for the months of the year when her family lived in the United States, this brave kid from the bush was cowed by the far more treacherous landscape of the preppy, private school social hierarchy.

Most girls Keena's age didn't spend their days changing truck tires, baking their own bread, or running from elephants as they tried to do their schoolwork. They also didn't carve bird whistles from palm nuts or nearly knock themselves unconscious trying to make homemade palm wine. But Keena's parents were famous primatologists who shuttled her and her sister between Philadelphia and Botswana every six months. Dreamer, reader, and adventurer, she was always far more comfortable avoiding lions and hippopotamuses than she was dealing with spoiled middle-school field hockey players.

In Keena's funny, tender memoir, Wild Life, Africa bleeds into America and vice versa, each culture amplifying the other. By turns heartbreaking and hilarious, Wild Life is ultimately the story of a daring but sensitive young girl desperately trying to figure out if there's any place where she truly fits in.

PLEASE NOTE: When you purchase this title, the accompanying PDF will be available in your Audible Library along with the audio.

©2019 Keena Roberts (P)2019 Grand Central Publishing

Critic Reviews

"Wild Life is a moving, thoughtful memoir of a young woman finding her path. Roberts' frank and witty voice is perfect - she navigates both joy and sorrow with a deft, sure touch, and her descriptions of Baboon Camp are so bright and vivid you can smell the dust. I couldn't put it down." (Madeline Miller, number one New York Times best-selling author of Circe)

"This episodic, warm exploration of identity and culture is both wide-eyed and surprisingly wise...[Wild Life captures] a carefree girlhood among wildlife and a rougher existence at school in Pennsylvania.... An immersive narrative that will have readers admiring the author's mostly charming adventures." (Kirkus)

"A riveting account of a swashbuckling, lion-dodging, tough-as-nails childhood and also a perceptive examination of how the geographical and cultural fault lines within one person shift and rupture over time. I couldn't put Wild Life down - this book left me hungry for awe." (Maggie Shipstead, New York Times best-selling author of Seating Arrangements and Astonish Me)

"Roberts's refreshing, upbeat debut is a rollicking memoir of girlhood adventure and matter-of-fact bravery.... Roberts writes with humor and kindness throughout, especially as she examines white privilege and the cultural differences of the Botswanan.... Resilient and resourceful, Roberts celebrates an unorthodox life in this endearing memoir." (Publishers Weekly)

"The contrast between life in the bush and life in the city, and of how Roberts learns to balance her two selves - the girl in the delta who can do everything adults do and the weirdo who doesn't feel safe in America - is a terrific coming-of-age story. Full of details about field research and bar mitzvahs, what to do when you meet dangerous wildlife or dangerous mean girls, and how reading was her salvation, Roberts' fish-out-of-water story is impossible to put down." (Booklist)

What listeners say about Wild Life

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  • Marilynn K. Duker
  • 05-04-20

Terrific Book - Gifted Writer

This was a beautifully written memoir of growing up in both suburban Philadelphia and a remote Baboon Camp in Botswana. The author proved a gifted and thoughtful writer even from an early age, as evidenced by excerpts from her childhood journals. Gifted with extraordinary powers of observation and insight. The narrator was generally very good but, it would seem a reasonable expectation, if you are reading a book largely set in Africa, that you would both to know how to pronounce the names of countries like Zambia and Namibia!

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  • Amazon Customer
  • 02-03-21

So incredibly good.

Excellent story- so incredible and well written. Deserves more than 5 stars. Hope the author keeps writing!

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  • Jennifer Peters
  • 11-12-19

Best book of the season

This is a beautifully written book. The author has such rich stories. I found myself not want to stop listening. I look forward to reading more from this author.

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  • Amazon Customer
  • 05-12-19

Wild life Dispatches from a Childhood of Baboon and Button downs

I enjoyed the book so much very lighthearted and interesting what a great childhood I recommend this book