December 05, 2006

Death in Africa

This book is a 2006 Cybil Award Nominee for YA Fiction.

Framed against the ordinary daily memories of a young girl growing up in Rwanda is the story of a horrible year, 1994, when Jeanne d'Arc Umubyeyi lost everything she had. Though only eight years old, Jeanne is the only one of her family to survive the Rwandan genocide, a countrywide murderous scheme by Hutu mobs run amok with no real reason behind it, and no real after effects. Her family and others of the Tutsi tribe are gunned down, battered with machetes and clubs and no one seems to notice or care. The morning after her family is destroyed and her home lost, people are out preparing banana beer and hanging out clothes as if the night before their neighbors had not been bludgeoned to death in their side yards.

A testament to the power of humanity, readers know from the fragmented snapshots of before and after that Jeanne learns to smile again after losing her entire family. But how does a country or a person recover from such things? And why do they happen? What was the purpose of the genocide? Why did it happen? German author Hanna Jansen, Jeanne's foster mother, writes this account in order to help Jeanne pull together some of the disparate strands of memory into a coherent whole, but she does not have those answers. No one who's life who has been touched by war seems to have answers of any kind.

A book of great but terrible importance, Over A Thousand Hills I Walk With You tells the story of a journey that is still taking place -- the journey toward peace and hope and healing.

No comments: