Love In The Driest Season



Love in the Driest Season, a 2004 memoir, tells the story of how Neely’s years as a foreign correspondent, particularly covering war and violent conflict, led to the adoption of his elder daughter from an AIDS-decimated orphanage in Zimbabwe.

It was named one of the 25 Best Books of the Year by Publishers Weekly, the American Bookseller’s Association, the New York City Public Library and others. It won the Inspirational Memoir of the Year from the Books for a Better Life Foundation and the Most Popular Debut from It won other recognition from the Christopher Foundation, Border’s, Barnes and Noble, Reader’s DigestElle Magazine and others.

American University and Concordia College selected the book as required reading for all incoming first-year students as a means of opening a discussion about race, family and international affairs. The book was prominently featured on National Public Radio’s “All Things Considered,” the Diane Rehm Show,  Essence Magazine. Still selling steadily a decade after publication, it has been published in the U.K., Germany and Brazil, and has twice been optioned for film development in Los Angeles.


“A gorgeous mix of family memoir and reportage that traverses the big issues of politics, racism and war.”
Publisher’s Weekly (starred review)

“Tucker maintains a sense of immediacy throughout the book…utterly heartfelt and truly inspiring.”
Booklist (starred review)

“Enthralling…interspersed with recollections of the horrific scenes of carnage Tucker witnessed and covered, the struggle for Chipo forces consideration of the drive to save one child while many are dying…wholeheartedly recommended.”
Library Journal (starred review)

“An extraordinary book of immense feeling and significant social relevance. Love in the Driest Season challenges anyone — even those numbed by the world’s abundant cruelty — not to care.”
The Washington Post

“A triumph of heart and will.”
O Magazine

“Using beautiful prose, Neely Tucker…tells of being assigned to cover Africa, falling in love with a Zimbabwean baby girl named Chipo, and the ordeal that followed he and his wife’s decision to adopt the child. The story is an extraordinary exploration into Zimbabwean culture and the power of love.”
Chicago Tribune

“(A story) not just of adoption, but of deliverance.”
Reader’s Digest

“Tucker’s considerable journalistic talents contribute to the quiet, often understated drama of his story…in the end, we are left neither with great hope nor complete despair for the children of Zimbabwe, and for the human capacity to make a difference. Rather, we are likely to finish Love in the Driest Season with a clear, more sobering sense of the task ahead.”
Miami Herald

“Tucker is a powerful writer. Around Chipo’s story he loops a gritty depiction of Africa: the war in Rwanda, the U.S. Embassy bombing in Nairobi, and above all Robert Mugabe’s governance of Zimbabwe — the bureaucracy, the brutality, the greed and the fear.”
Houston Chronicle

“Neely writes of those rare moments in life when ‘everything changes and you find yourself swept along in a series of events that are beyond your measure.’ His memoir will sweep you along, too.”
Christian Science Monitor

“It’s a testament to Tucker’s abilities as a journalist that this book…reads like a thriller.”
National Post (Canada)

“Because the book is about parents as well as the child, it’s about race and change and the South. Because it’s set in the epicenter of the world AIDS epidemic, it’s about orphans and a mortality rates…that rose 700 percent in a decade. Because he’s a reporter, it’s about stories and events and history. It’s lyrical, gruesome, droll, poignant, devastating and hopeful.”
–Neal Rubin, The Detroit News

“An almost unbelievable tale of bureaucracy, lunacy and love. Yet it resonates….the suspense is stomach-wrenching…his voice is definitely his own. It is the story of a man outrunning his demons. It is the story of a country’s descent into horror. And it is the story of all the other abandoned children in Zimbabwe.”
The Orlando Sentinel

“Taut, dramatic and moving…probably the most politically powerful piece he will ever write.”
The Age (Melbourne, Australia)

“A unique book that stands to spark an awareness of Africa and AIDS in a way that scores of newspaper articles have not…Like ‘Philadelphia,’ the movie that gave many Americans a personal connection to AIDS in the United States, Tucker’s book allows readers to connect with a huge problem by focusing on its human details.”
United Press International

“This memoir, however, is a much larger story, addressing issues of race, culture and values both in Africa and the United States. The book also provides keen insight into what it was like to be the only American journalist (not to mention an American journalist trying to adopt a Zimbabwean child) in a country that had recently declared its hatred for foreign journalists.”
Charlotte Observer