I recently won a five book prize pack from HarperCollins Canada. This is one of those books.
Running the Rift by Naomi Benaron
When I first started reading this book, I didn't think I would like it. It starts as the main character, Jean Patrick Nkuba, is a young boy in Rwanda. As it progresses, we follow his life over ten years. From young boy, to gifted track star, to Olympic hopeful. Through his life leading up to the terrible events that occurred in Rwanda in 1994, when he lived in terror and struggled to stay alive.
If you are not up on your world history, that's when over 500,000 people were killed in Rwanda over the course of about 100 days. I'm talking, of course, of the Rwanda Genocide.
When I first started reading, I felt that it was written in style of a book that I'm supposed to like, because it's important. You know what I mean? Anyway, I was completely wrong. It wasn't long before I was totally engrossed in the story. The style, in fact, perfectly reflects the mind of the narrator.
This book sparks some major emotions. As I read, I felt a profound sadness and anger, as only hatred and racism can make you feel. At first, as an adult reading a child's thoughts, you can see it in the background. Just out of reach. It only grows as our protagonist does. It's not only that though. There is happiness, family bonding, triumph and first love. There is great loss. It's kind of impossible for me to explain all of the ways this book will tug at your soul. Impossible.
On a scale from Totally Awesome to Horrifically Awful, I'd give it an Incredible. It reads like an important book because it is important. There is a good reason it won the Bellwether Prize for fiction. If you get a chance, read this book. I'm serious.
It took me three days to finish this book. Only because I had to go to work. And to sleep so that I could go to work in the morning. If I could have, I would have read all day and all night, until it was finished. On day three, I wanted nothing more then to get home, so I could finish reading the book. I can't say that I couldn't put it down, but I can say that I didn't want to.