Friday, October 11, 2013

Review: "Running the Rift" by Naomi Benaron

Date read - October 11th, 2013
Date published - January 3rd, 2012 - Algonquin Books
Source - Public Library

 Since he was a boy, Jean Patrick Nkuba wants more than anything to become Rwanda's first Olympic medal winner for track. As the years pass, Jean Patrick runs when he can, the dream of Olympic glory as strong as his legs can carry. But as he becomes older, the fault lines of Rwanda are slowly exposed. The racial tension between the Hutus and Tutsis simmer as Jean Patrick moves closer to his dream. In the fateful year of 1994, Jean Patrick will have to confront the horror that unravels before his eyes and the possibility of losing everything he loves dear.
For over seven years, I have done extensive research about Rwanda and the genocide in 1994, in where a little over a million Rwandans (mostly Tutsis) were killed in three months. When one reads about the genocide, you descend into the catacombs for evil, horror, and brutality. Naomi Benaron has done plenty of research for the novel, which is very accurate. The story begins slowly, but the momentum builds up. At one point, I couldn’t put the book down and I could feel my whole body tense up, the fear roaring through me knowing of the incoming horror that is about to befall on Rwanda. That being said, I couldn’t help but fall head over heels in love for Jean Patrick and the rest of his huge family and friends. It seems as they were real people, which shows to me the author’s devotion to each of them. By the end, I was in tears. When I first heard about the book and checked it out, I had a very good feeling that this was going to be a book that I would love. My instincts were on the dot.
  “Running the Rift” is filled with horror and terror, but also tenderness and hope. It is a loving tribute to the people of Rwanda, not just to the dead, but for the survivors whom refuse to give in to the painful past, and in doing so carrying the nation forward towards a better tomorrow. The resilience and determination of Jean Patrick will resonate with readers, just like it did with me.  A valuable addition to the literature of Rwanda, Naomi Benaron has done justice for the people of Rwanda and of our common humanity.

Naomi wrote an excellent essay on the evolution of "Running the Rift" and the duty of telling the stories in regards to social justice. Read here.

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