I received this book for free from Library for review consideration, opinions expressed are 100% my own. This post contains affiliate links as indicated by an asterisk. Purchases from these links provides a small commission to me at no extra cost to you.Strength In What Remains by Tracy Kidder
Publication Date: August 25, 2009
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An inspiring and haunting true story about a man who fled the genocide of Burundi and came to America in pursuit of a better life through education.
3* – Strength in What Remains is an inspiring and haunting true story about a man who fled the genocide of Burundi and came to America in pursuit of a better life through education.
Synopsis from Goodreads:
“Tracy Kidder, winner of the Pulitzer Prize and author of the bestsellers The Soul of a New Machine, House, and the enduring classic Mountains Beyond Mountains, has been described by the Baltimore Sun as the “master of the non-fiction narrative.” In this new book, Kidder gives us the superb story of a hero for our time. Strength in What Remains is a wonderfully written, inspiring account of one man’s remarkable American journey and of the ordinary people who helped him–a brilliant testament to the power of will and of second chances.
Deo arrives in America from Burundi in search of a new life. Having survived a civil war and genocide, plagued by horrific dreams, he lands at JFK airport with two hundred dollars, no English, and no contacts. He ekes out a precarious existence delivering groceries, living in Central Park, and learning English by reading dictionaries in bookstores. Then Deo begins to meet the strangers who will change his life, pointing him eventually in the direction of Columbia University, medical school, and a life devoted to healing. Kidder breaks new ground in telling this unforgettable story as he travels with Deo back over a turbulent life in search of meaning and forgiveness.
An extraordinary writer, Tracy Kidder once again shows us what it means to be fully human by telling a story about the heroism inherent in ordinary people, a story about a life based on hope.”
Strength in What Remains is a heartbreaking story of Deo’s escape from his country plagued with genocide, war and devastation. It is amazing to me what Deo endured, what he saw in his days before he left Burundi and came to America. Deo describes how while he flew over his homeland and escaped, he was painfully aware that on the ground below his counrtymen were suffering and dying. It’s an emotional, gripping and horrifying recollection of a senseless genocide of a people, when even Deo seems uncertain why there is hatred for his kind. Is it his race or his class that he’s being persecuted for?
Upon arriving in America, Deo’s life was far from the American dream. He fled a life where he was oppressed because of his race or class and landed in a life of homelessness and severe poverty living in New York. What transpires is another test of his perseverance and his powerful love to learn and make a better life for himself and those around him. It’s an inspiring and haunting story that gave me a new appreciation for those civil rights leaders who helped secure our racial equality.
I think Strength in What Remains would make a very interesting book for a book club and those who are interested in social justice and learning about other cultures. Here’s a great list of book club questions if you are interested. It would make a great book for our Travel the World in Books Reading Challenge designed to help you learn about other countries and cultures other than your own.
Strength in What Remains is a difficult but worthwhile read about the genocide in Burundi that will shed new perspective on our own difficulties in life and finding the strength to persevere in what remains.
[bctt tweet=”STRENGTH IN WHAT REMAINS by @tracykidder9 is a worthwhile read about resilience through genocide” username=”momsvictories”]
“I do believe in God. I think God has given so much power to people, and intelligence, and said, ‘Well, you are on your own. Maybe I’m tired, I need a nap. You are mature. Why don’t you look after yourselves?’ And I think He’s been sleeping too much.”
“He sniffed, and said as others had before him and others no doubt would again, “I have learned never to say, ‘Never again.”
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The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao – historical fiction set partly in Dominican Republic during Trujillo dictatorship