keady30, May 28, 2013 (view all comments by keady30)
I loved this book. It really gave me a deeper understanding and curiosity about the Rwandan genocide. I felt attached to the characters and couldn't put the book down. I also wrote the author, the first time I have ever written an author, and she responded. I highly recommend this book.
Aaron Cance, January 30, 2013 (view all comments by Aaron Cance)
An unflinching portrait of the Rwandan genocide, Benaron brings her readers face to face with a young Tutsi athlete who is meant to become a poster child for Hutu tolerance and generosity, but soon begins to question his keepers' motives. Handsomely written, what Benaron does best with this novel is show, through the book's narrative, the subtle siesmic shifts that lead to the eruption of violence that drew the attention of the rest of the world. Running the rift is engaging, thoughtful, and deeply felt, and anyone who reads it will never forget it's powerful cautionary message.
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Algonquin Books of Chapel Hill -
"Publishers Weekly Review"
by Publishers Weekly,
"Set in the years leading up to the Rwanda genocide, Benaron's Bellweather Prize-winning debut novel follows Jean Patrick Nkuba, 'the jewel in Rwanda's crown,' a Tutsi boy with a gift for running. Jean Patrick dreams of representing Rwanda in the Olympics, but must contend with abject poverty, an ethnic quota system, and savage bullying. He runs Olympic-qualifying times, moving closer to his dreams as tensions rise between the governing Hutus and the RPF (Rwandan Patriotic Force), a Tutsi-led rebel army. Jean Patrick gains the favor of the president, but falls in love with a journalism student participating in antigovernment activism, and finds himself entangled in a vast and calamitous game of political chess. 'Something unimaginable is coming,' warns his brother, a rebel soldier, and when the long-smoldering tensions between the Hutus and Tutsis erupt into a hellish conflagration, Jean Patrick must run away from the country he has spent his life running for. Benaron accomplishes the improbable feat of wringing genuine loveliness from unspeakable horror. She renders friendships and families with tenderness and sincerity, and lingers on the goodwill that binds a fractious community, even as those tethers grow taut and, finally, snap. She regards even the genocidaires with clear-eyed charity, allowing moral complexity to color the perversity of their deeds. It is a testament to Benaron's skill that a novel about genocide — about neighbors and friends savagely turning on one another — conveys so profoundly the joys of family, friendship, and community. This powerful novel recounts inhumanity on a scale scarcely imaginable, yet rebukes its nihilism, countering unforgivable violence with small mercies and unyielding hope." Publishers Weekly (Starred Review) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
by The Daily Beast,
"An auspicious debut... Having worked extensively with genocide survivor groups in Rwanda, Benaron clearly acquired a very lucid sense of her characters' lives and of the horrors they endured. Her story tells, with compelling clarity, of Rwandan Tutsi youth, Jean Patrick Nkuba — who dreams of becoming Rwanda's first Olympic medalist. It's a dream he must postpone for more than a decade as the internecine savagery, Hutu vs. Tutsi, slaughters millions and derails the lives of countless others. While it would be counterintuitive to pronounce this a winning, feel-good story, there is something to be said for hope restored. And Naomi Benaron's characters say it well."
by Library Journal, Starred Review,
"First novelist Benaron, who has actively worked with refugee groups, won the 2010 Bellwether Prize for Socially Engaged Fiction for this unflinching and beautifully crafted account of a people and their survival. In addition, she compellingly details the growth and rigorous training of a young athlete... Highly recommended; readers who loved Khaled Hosseini's The Kite Runner will appreciate."
by Kirkus Reviews, Starred Review,
"The politics will be familiar to those who have followed Africa's crises (or seen Hotel Rwanda), but where Benaron shines is in her tender descriptions of Rwandan's natural beauty and in her creation of Jean Patrick, a hero whose noble innocence and genuine human warmth are impossible not to love."
"Awarded the prestigious Bellwether Prize for its treatment of compelling social issues, Benaron's first novel is a gripping, frequently distressing portrait of destruction and ultimate redemption... Benaron sheds a crystalline beacon on an alarming episode in global history, and her charismatic protagonist leaves an indelible impression."
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