Who Knows Tomorrow
written by Lisa Lovatt-Smith
published by Weinstein Publishing
Disclosure: I received a complimentary copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.
Did I enjoy this book: I’m on the fence. It reminds me a lot of Tony Cointreau’s memoir, but I feel differently about the two. I spent the first half of the book sifting through the usual name-drops (of which, as with Cointreau’s list, I readily identified exactly zero) and waiting for the life-altering stuff to happen. Lovatt-Smith’s writing is clean and succinct, but I wish I could have seen just a bit more of her heart. It’s a tricky thing to describe — especially because I’ve got all sorts of admiration for her — but I think Lovatt-Smith did just a bit too much photo-shopping here. By the end of Cointreau’s book, I felt comfortable enough to stop him on the street for a chat, and, despite knowing just as much about Mama Lisa’s life as I do Tony’s, I’d still consider her a stranger.
GOLDEN LINE: “Most of them wore a very dignified, almost eighteenth-century outfit with a short tailored jacket, the kabba cover, and a long, slit skirt; the slit. A kabba and slit; instantly I wanted one – no, several – but one at least, in one of those fantastic wax prints, preferably a pink and orange medley.”
Would I recommend it: It’s an interesting story, and Ms. Lovatt-Smith leads a remarkable life, but it could do with a touch more passion. Unless you’re planning either a career in the fashion industry or a trip to Africa, I’d pass on this one.
About the book – from Goodreads: “Who Knows Tomorrow” is the extraordinary true story of Lisa Lovatt-Smith, a “Vogue” magazine editor who, at the age of thirty-five, made the astonishing choice to abandon her glamorous lifestyle and dedicate her life to helping Africa s most vulnerable children in rural Ghana.Born in Spain to a single mother who struggled to make rent, Lisa Lovatt-Smith rose to become the photo editor at British “Vogue” at the age of nineteen, the youngest in Conde Nast history. At twenty-one, she helped launch Spanish “Vogue,” hosting massive, lavish parties in Madrid with celebrities such as the Rolling Stones, Madonna, and Andy Warhol. By her mid-thirties, Lisa lived an enviable life filled with designer clothes, a dream career, and a beautiful Parisian home.
But at home, Lisa s life is less than perfect. Her adopted daughter Leila is expelled from school for increasingly disturbing behavior. Determined to get her daughter back on track, Lisa takes Leila to Ghana to volunteer at an orphanage. The experience is transformational: Lisa, who had feared the hardship of even a short visit to Africa, finds herself stunned out of her luxurious life and compelled to act.
Within eighteen months, Lisa moves to Ghana and sets up OrphanAid Africa, her own fostering network and activist group, dedicating all her personal resources to bringing up hundreds of Ghanaian children. In her drive to give love and a future to these orphaned children, Lisa first builds a beautiful fostering center in the tropical forest. Next in a country with almost no regulations protecting these vulnerable children she spearheads a drive to develop nation-wide reform throughout Ghana, advocating a phase-out of orphanages in favor of monitored fostering.
Lisa s quest is a dramatic, unforgettable journey. She confronts snakes, death threats, cruel betrayals, illness, road accidents, arson, an armed attack, and the AIDS epidemic that has killed so many parents with young children, and a corrupt system of for-profit orphanages. Her lonely childhood gives her the keen appreciation for what the orphans are missing, and her apprenticeship within the disciplined structure of “Vogue” has taught her the enormous resourcefulness and persistence she needs to succeed.
“Who Knows Tomorrow” is eye-opening and heart-wrenchingly honest, an inspiration to anyone who seeks meaning in helping those who cannot help themselves. It examines the myths surrounding aid to impoverished African children with a critical yet compassionate eye. A vivid portrait of West Africa today, it is an unflinching portrayal of the tragedies endured by millions of children, who struggle despite, and sometimes because of, outpourings of often-misplaced Western benevolence. And although to Lisa it will always be all about the children, it is also a touching celebration of a woman who is talented, generous, and brave.”