Keena Roberts Split Her Adolescence Between The Wilds Of An Island Camp In Botswana And The Even 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 Treacherous Landscape Of The Preppy, Private School Social HierarchyMost 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 Comfortable Avoiding Lions And Hippopotamuses Than She Was Dealing With Spoiled Middle School Field Hockey PlayersIn 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 Instagram Twitter Facebook PinterestThe movie Mean Girls opens up with Cady Heron returning to normal high school life after spending the last 12 years in Africa with her zoologist parents Applying the same observational skills she acquired in Africa, Cady quickly observes that people, like animals, tend to stay in their own groups and exhibit hierarchical displays of social dominance and aggression I always thought that was a really cool hook but it seemed unrealistic until I picked up WILD LIFE, and realized that Keena is literally Cady.Keena grew up in Kenya and Zimbabwe with her primatologist parents, spending the majority of her time in a baboon camp While camping in Africa, she learned many survival skills, such as how to treat severe dehydration and survive in temperatures reaching 130 degrees how to react in a leopard or lion attack how to shoot the head of a snake and wield a spear and some unconventional first aid techniques, such as the use of a stun gun to neutralize snake venom.To keep their grants, though, her parents had to continually return back to the United States to teach, and so, by proxy, did Keena and her younger sister, Lucy In her private school in Philadelphia, Keena quickly learned that most of the kids didn t care about anything she picked up in Africa, regarding her as a freak and calling her names the very things that made her unique and a survivalist made her unliked and ostracized from her peers, especially since her interests animals and fantasy books didn t really sync up with the trends in pop culture.I picked up this book partially because the premise sounded like a real life Mean Girls, and it was that, but also so much I love travel memoirs, especially if the author is really skilled at imparting the details of their journey, and WILD LIFE is an especially cinematographic memoir I really felt like I was in the veldts of Botswana, having real life encounters with lions, and baboons, and hippos oh my When she described the 130 degree heatwave that made all of their equipment melt, I felt a little dizzy, myself She s an incredible narrator, and during every step of this memoir, I felt like I was really seeing everything through her eyes It was incredible.One of the flaws of memoirs is that if you don t like the person writing the book, when you re rating a book you kind of have to rate the person The corollary to that is, if you like the person writing the book, you feel like you ve made a new best friend Keena Roberts is so cool and I saw so much of myself in her a tomboyish, awkward book nerd with unconventional and obsessive interests and a love of facts and animals I took it personally when she was bullied by her peers, because I had a similar experience in middle school and high school, and seeing her get stung by rejection but stay true to herself despite everything made me really wish that I could have been her friend in school.WILD LIFE is such a fantastic memoir and it s completely different from other travel memoirs that I ve read Her knowledge and passion and genuine love of reading and the written word make this such a pleasure to read, and I think anyone who feels like they don t fit in will relate to Keena Roberts own personal Mean Girls adventure complete with bonus scenes set in Africa Thanks to the publisher for sending me a copy in exchange for an honest review 4.5 stars I was fortunate to be able to read an advanced copy of Wild Life This is the kind of memoir that surprises, the kind you can t put down It s going to appeal to a broad audience will please both adults and the YA crowd I absolutely loved this book Keena s strong voice is funny and fresh and bright I was enthralled with her adventures there is a certain magic that comes through the pages I highly recommend this captivating gem of a book. This review and can be found on The Book Bratz.When I first heard about Keena s book during one of the Class2k19Books chats that we were given the awesome opportunity to host, I was immediately intrigued A story about a girl who split her time growing up between her parents research camp in Botswana and an elite high school in Philly It sounded exactly like Mean Girls, which is exactly up my alley And when I found out that it was nonfiction, and was actually Keena s own experience That was even better So without further ado, let s get into my review As the summary explains, this book is an actual nonfiction account of Keena s childhood as she grew up, both in Africa and America I hadn t ever read YA nonfiction before, so I wasn t sure what to expect before I got into this book, but Keena s writing so well done that the book felt like any other fiction I d pull off of the shelf I flew through this book in just a few days because I loved it so much and couldn t put it down Plus, it was pretty cool to keep reminding myself that everything I was reading was actually stuff that happened to Keena in her own life It was no pun intended a wild ride of a read Another thing that I really liked about this book was the way Keena described the experiences in America Those were the parts where I got definite Mean Girls vibes, where it felt like young Keena was at risk around the high school predators of jealous girls and rude boys, rather than all of the wild life she encountered during her time in Africa It also made me really sad to read about how bullied she was when she first came to American schools after Africa, because remembering that this was a real story and that there were really people who were this mean to kids that were different than them was pretty sad But young Keena handled it all with grace and intellect, and watching her brave her way through the high school wild was just as fascinating as it was to read about her adventures in Botswana My favorite part of this book was just seeing all of the different ways that Keena and her family survived at Baboon Camp As someone who isn t even good at camping when it s in my own backyard, seeing her family manage to make a home out of what started as an empty stretch of land was really cool to see And, like I ve probably said a million times since I started this review, the fact that I know that this all really happened, and I know Keena through blogging she s such a great friend, and I m on her street team , it gave the book another special element to me Reading this book really did leave me feeling warm and fuzzy inside by the end Overall, I absolutely loved Wild Life, and I d absolutely recommend it to anyone looking for an adventurous read Keena Roberts weaves her life experience together in such a captivating way that will hook you from the very first word and keep you hanging on until the very end If you ve never tried nonfiction before, or specifically YA nonfiction, I d absolutely encourage you to pick this one up Wild Life is something different, refreshing, and new It will take you on an adventure across the world that you may not expect, and you learn a lot about the book s fabulous author in the process I rarely, if ever, read memoirs Every now and then, if it s someone of great cultural historical significance, then perhaps, but I tend to stay away, especially if it s just your average person It s a subjective thing, really, nothing against the genre of a whole.Keena Roberts s Wild Life, however, is a phenomenal example and I m so happy that I was given the opportunity to read her ARC She tells her story with depth, humor, and heart, and when you re done, you can almost believe you were studying in Kenya or Botswana right alongside her.Roberts spent much of her life growing up in a variety of African settings with her primatologist parents There she absorbed everything she could living among wild animals and often felt at home with them than she did when she would return to her American schools She could understand how and why wild animals acted, but she couldn t wrap her head around the meanness of her classmates.I m amazed at how much life she packs into less than 300 pages Aside from learning about her fascinating upbringing, I learned even about Africa, particularly the landscape and life in places such as Kenya, and Botswana the animals, the people, their illnesses and struggles as well as their passions and humanity Through vivid descriptions, you will smell the rain, sweat in the 130 degree temperatures, feel the dust clogging your nose This book is a triumph and as a YA geared release, I can see its usefulness in a variety of academic settings But anyone of her age bracket and anyone else, really will easily relate as well, as she writes about contemporary world events as they unfolded in her life When she mentions the death of Princess Diana and 9 11, well, I was instantly transported to my teenage days too.Thank you to the author for passing along a copy of this ARC to review. This is, by far, the best non fic book I ve read Roberts drops you right into her life at a young age and does a great job of bringing you right along with her first to Kenya, then the US, and finally to Botswana I found myself having to actively pull myself away because I wanted to know all about Roberts growing up between the two continents and the different lives she led between them How she saw herself as two parts something I m sure many geeks or nerds can relate to , and having to hide one part to fit in same And the ending With the lion Goodness This is a true look into a different life that provides such valuable insight into the heart of a caring woman and the research her family did to help those on our earth that cannot speak for themselves in a way we understand This book is worthy of all praise. I ve never been so in love with a memoir Roberts brought me to the Okavango Delta and her family s research baboon camp, and I felt as if I were actually there With vivid descriptions and harrowing real life tales I am SHOCKED by that boat she captained at 10 years old , her storytelling snagged me by the mouth and reeled me in This is one of my favorite reads this year This review can also be found at Carole s Random Life in Books.I really enjoyed this book If you follow my reviews, you probably already know that my taste in books is pretty eclectic While I am willing to read anything that sounds interesting, I don t read a lot of memoirs because they rarely appeal to me I have zero desire to read about celebrities which eliminates a lot of memoirs A story about a normal person doing extraordinary things is exactly the kind of thing I can get into so I went with my gut and gave this book a try and I am so glad that I did Once I started reading this book, I didn t want to stop and ended up reading the whole book in a single day Keena s childhood was quite unique Her parents studied animals in their own environment and took the whole family with them She spent the first few years of her life in Kenya but most of her childhood was split between Botswana and Philadelphia While in Baboon Camp in Botswana, Keena and her family lived in tents and had to watch out for lions, elephants, and buffalo While in school, she had to deal with kids who liked being mean to anyone who was a little different From her descriptions, I would have preferred life with the lions over going to high school as she did.I loved getting to know Keena through her stories There were times that I worried about her and feared that she would get hurt I sympathized with her when she struggled to fit in at school I was a little jealous of her when she described the days that she would spend the day in a tree reading while at camp I was amazed by her ability to think clearly in highly stressful situations The descriptions in the book are very well done and I felt like I had a good idea of what life was like at camp I loved that there were a few photos scattered throughout the book to help illustrate some of the things discussed in the book.I would recommend this book to others I found this book to be very entertaining and I feel like I learned a few things in the process I wouldn t hesitate to read from Keena Roberts in the future I received a review copy of this book from Grand Central Publishing.Initial ThoughtsI really enjoyed this book I don t read a lot of memoirs but when I do decide to pick one up it is usually about a normal person doing extraordinary things instead of anything dealing with a celebrity I couldn t imagine growing up like Keena did before reading this book I understood her love of nature and animals while struggling to fit in during her times in the United States I thought that she did a fantastic job of letting the reader see what both aspects of her life were like I was worried about her safety at times and her emotional welfare at others I am so glad that I decided to give this one a try. I enjoyed this book so much, I worry there is no possible way I could write a review worthy of the book As lacking as my review might be if I could give myself the kind of pep talk Keena gave herself those were fantastic I might have a chance of writing an acceptable review , this book is better than good or great it s quality, and a treasure It s not just the exciting adventures that Keena has in Kenya or in Botswana, when she lived in Baboon Camp and makes pretty admirable contributions, with her little sister Lucy, to her parents research regarding the baboons, it s the way these adventures are expressed and told that make everything so vivid and so very interesting and exciting Keena is a fabulous storyteller, who puts herself into everything adventures, hopes, plans, challenges, fears, triumphs, tears that she shares.And it s interesting to see how Keena ponders the question Which is scarier and possibly dangerous Baboon camp with its snakes, particularly mambas lions elephants, crocodiles yes, man eating hippos, threats of fires, boat disasters, dehydration just to name a few , or school in Pennsylvania Keena must decide who she is, wherever she may be living, and how to be herself Really, a fantastic, captivating, continually adventurous read I can t recommend highly enough After reading Keena Robert s memoir, I am going to assume the front cover photo is photoshopped, since one learns from the book that the hippopotamus is the most dangerous creature in all of Africa Personally, I learned lots and lots of stuff about life in Africa that I did not know Ms Roberts fascinates the reader with all that she experienced as a child living in Botswana, part of the year, with her little sister and parents who were both primatologists All that she had to do to be a part of a primate studying camp, all that she had to do to not be injured or killed by a wild animal.While reading her story, I amusingly often thought that any helicopter parent who read the memoir would probably see it as a sick type of science fiction Seriously, the things Keena Roberts and her sister Lucy were expected to learn and carry out would probably give a helicopter parent convulsions Basically, the girls were treated like small adults from a very young age On one hand, it showed how capable children are of doing difficult and dangerous tasks, when it is expected of them by their parents On the other hand, one had to question the judgment of Ms Robert s parents at times, had to question if they were lacking in some common parental protectiveness.Both her parents were scientific types, who apparently did not talk about feelings much, and were not physically demonstrative Even back in the United States, during the school years when the girls were in a private Philadelphia school, her parents seemed strangely uninvolved in her life at times For example, the author was harassed by boys on the phone for a long time, and her parents knew about it, but did nothing to stop it even though they easily could have, since the calls were being made to the family s landline Her mother sympathized with her about the calls, but apparently felt that was life and you just had to accept such things Also, back in Botswana, she was allowed to drink beer and hard liquor even before entering high school Don t get the wrong impression here, though, this memoir is thankfully not a parent bashing one, or even one that spends much time reflecting on family dynamics Amazing since the author majored in psychology at Harvard It s of an adventure story, plus a look at what it is like to be considered really odd by many kids at school, because you were different, due to having a totally different life part of the year in Africa Kids said really mean things to Ms Roberts even in her senior year, after years of her trying to fit in with everyone else, trying to be somewhat invisible It was a shame all the wildness of Africa, all the courage she had to have to live and survive there, didn t make her a bit like a hippopotamus when she was in school in Philadelphia She could have ripped the heads off of those mean kids Note I received a free ARC of this book from Vine. I loved this memoir about a young American girl growing up in Kenya and Botswana as the child of American baboon researchers academics Much to her dismay, her parents made her go to high school in the US, where she never quite fit in at a Pennsylvania elite private school In the bush, with only her sister for a playmate, she was treated as a small adult by both African staff , her parents, and other adults, given a level of responsibility that she never would have had in the US No wonder she found it hard to fit in with the privileged Mainline teenagers, who regarded her as a freak Her powers of observation, developed by years of observing baboons and other wildlife in the bush, serve her well as she studies her adolescent classmates, and she learns to survive in the wilds of an American high school but never quite feels at ease the way she does in the bush I highly recommend this memoir as a classic coming of age story as Keena tries to figure out where she fits in, as well as an enchanting description of life in the African bush, where lions and elephants can be around any bend, poisonous mambas lurk, and baboons become your friends I would recommend this as a good read for teens as well as adults.