The Volunteer by Carter Coleman

Published: 1998

Genre: fiction

Length: 296 pages

Setting: the Umsambaras mountains region of Tanzania, present day

Interest: It fulfilled two of my book challenges

Summary: Jordan Rutledge is a Peace Corps volunteer in Tanzania teaching people how to farm fish. He’s also a deeply troubled, lonely young man who’s used the Peace Corps to run away from his failed relationship with Anna. During the story, he spends his time either obsessing about Anna or raising a crowned eaglet, Pasipo. Then he meets Zanifa, a 16-year old school girl who brings him his weekly chickens for Pasipo. Zanifa turns into his new obsession, especially when he learns she’s engages to Kimweri, the sultan of the Umsambaras. Even worse, Kimweri want Zanifa to undergo jambo (female circumcision). Jordan then conceives of a plan to put Zanifa in a boarding shcool in neighboring Kenya, all the while introducing Zanifa to the pleasures of oral sex.

Final thoughts: I did not like Jordan, especially in his relationship with women. (I need to read a book where the guy is not all about sex – this is the second book in a row where the guy is creepy.) He was completely flabbergasted that Anna wouldn’t forgive him for his multiple bouts of infidelity and take him back. Then, he decides to seduce Zanifa, “for her own good” of course. Too much “Come one, it’ll be OK” and “trust me”s for my taste. I wasn’t sure if I wanted Jordan to get Zanifa away. I did for her sake, but not his. The ending gave me a nice middle ground that I hadn’t thought of. The setting was quite impressive, and I loved his work with Pasipo, even if it was just another example of him being special and not needing to follow the rules.

Title comes from: Jordan, the main character, was a Peace Corps volunteer

Reading challenges fulfilled: 61/100 in my 100 Book Challenge, a V in my title Alphabet Challenge and Africa in my Global Reading Challenge

If you’re interested in purchasing the book, you can click on the cover image to follow an Amazon affiliate link to the book and thanks for supporting my blog!


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