In this gripping memoir, a woman faces her biggest fears when she must quarantine alone in a foreign country.
Author Janine Valentine is on the final day of a luxury dive boat cruise on the Indian Ocean when she tests positive for COVID-19. Of the 11 women in her group, the asymptomatic Valentine is the only one with the result that prevents her from re-entering the U.S. Worse, the boat crew have no plans for the situation other than the knowledge that she must now quarantine.
She’s transported to the city of Malé in Maldives, where she realizes that she has less than $50 in cash in a place that often demands cash-only—cash that’s in good condition, to boot. Furthermore, the Maldives is a strict Muslim country where women cover their bodies, but Valentine has only swimsuits and similar cruise-friendly clothing.
Instructed by a crew member to lie if asked about COVID, she finds a hotel where she can quarantine for 14 days. With limited resources, a bug-infested room and now sick, Valentine must face her fears, figure out how to get food and treat her symptoms, all while keeping her illness secret in a sometimes-unfriendly foreign environment. “This was a whole new level of vulnerability, isolation, fear, and powerlessness,” Valentine writes in her Preface.
In less skilled hands, the daily journal entries that comprise most of this memoir could grow monotonous, but this is a page turner. In clear, candid writing, Valentine delivers a beat-by-beat account of what it’s like to face a nightmarish experience that seemingly couldn’t get worse, but does. Yet, it’s also a tale of personal triumph, resilience and hope. While Valentine grounds the story in her spiritual growth and understanding, it’s not overdone nor does it require readers to share her beliefs.
This memoir is likely to resonate with many readers. After all, as Valentine writes, “scary, hard stuff is going to happen to all of us.”
Also available as an ebook.