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Sing, and Don't Cry is Cate Kennedy's sensual and touching evocation of her time spent working as a volunteer in small town Mexico. The people she comes to love in Tequisquiapan, and their gusto for celebration, pilgrimage and family, force her to cast a penetrating light on her own Western values and ways. 'What is truly essential, and who is truly poor?' asks Kennedy in a book that also challenges the reader to care more for his or her world. Described as 'a travel book with a social conscience' this essential memoir, from the award-winning fiction writer and poet, is funny, warm, yet ultimately disarming.
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Armed with a willingness to help, a tiny bit of Spanish and a deep inhale, Cate Kennedy starts her story as she embarks on a two-year-stay in Mexico, through Australian Volunteers International. She spends her days working in a credit cooperative to help local communities raise and distribute wealth more efficiently, but even so, many of her stories are very much out-of-office ones. Kennedy is keen to confront the clich‚s of tortillas and nachos, sombreros and ponchos, siestas and fiestas, but makes it clear very early that poverty is no myth in Mexico. There are also parts where Kennedy reflects on Australia (on our ways and politics) through her new Mexican lens, which make it especially relevant to readers Downunder. Kennedy's language is vibrant and thoughtful, addressing all of our senses, drawing the reader into an irresistible world of joy and celebration, despite serious hardship. Anyone who enjoyed Sarah Turnbull's Almost French or Marlena de Blasi's Dolce E Salata will probably like this book. While it does fit nicely into the popular genre of ex-pat travel narratives, I think its sharp humanitarian edge gives it a bold uniqueness. Erin O'Brien is AB&P's editorial assistant C. 2005 Thorpe-Bowker and contributors

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