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Strength in What Remains: A Journey of Remembrance and Forgiveness

Average Rating 4
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(18)

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(9)

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Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 100 Customer Reviews
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  • Posted June 8, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    Moving Story

    Award winning author Tracy Kidder writes a biography of a journey of survival against unbelievable odds. The main character Deo is a young medical student in Burundi, a country neighboring Ruwanda. He amazingly survives the genocide and escapes to America in 1994. In New York Deo begins the life-long process of recovery. He starts out living in New York's central park and working as a grocery delivery boy. He is plagued by horrifying memories and nightmares and endures many difficulties before meeting some compassionate Americans who tend to his needs and help him to achieve his goal of going back to university.

    Strength in What Remains traces Deo's many journeys both physical and spiritual. Part one, titled Flights, tells his first journey to America. It then gradually unfolds the details of his original flight for his life which took him across Burundi, into a refugee camp in Ruwanda and then back to Burundi. He narrowly escapes death many times and witnesses unspeakable horrors. Part two is titled Gusimbura which is a word that means to remind someone of something bad. In part two Deo and Tracy Kidder makes a journey to Burundi together, where they revisit the places of Deo's childhood and also visits many memorial sites. Kidder describes Deo's attempt to understand what he and his country had been through and how to move on from it. Part two of the book contained statistics and some research into the history of the events. My only criticism is that I found this section to be a little drawn out.

    Kidder's book is inspirational. While it reminds us of one of the most tragic events in recent history, it is actually an incredibly positive story. The seriousness of the topic is tempered by some occasional laugh-out-loud humorous moments that are interspersed though the book. Deo's humanity is sustained by his long term vision to bring free health care to the impoverished people of Burundi, reminding the reader that peace and progress is accomplished through the hopes and determination of compassionate individuals.

    11 out of 11 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 12, 2010

    I Also Recommend:

    Africa Comes Alive!

    What a wonderful account of one young man's struggle to stay alive, both in his native country, and in New York City! This informative story of the struggles of the last few decades of the Hutu and Tutsi peoples to rid the country of the other tribe members. The story covers in terrifying detail the horrors of the wars and how one man was miraculously able to escape, arriving in New York with $200 and looking for anyone who spoke French. The Big Apple was not too kind to this young man either for a while. A good read of struggle and triumph and forgiveness.

    4 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted August 31, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    I Also Recommend:

    We are all washed with his forgiveness...

    Deogracias is the lens through which we view Burundi and Rwanda during the "events" of the 90's. Through his eyes we also have a reflected view of New York City and its inhabitants in that decade. By the end of the book I realized, without the slightest cynicism, that we must indeed thank god for this man, Deogracias, who shows us what humans can be, and what they can accomplish.

    Kidder does an exceptional job of showing us the disorientation of Deo during and after the events in Africa, and after his arrival in NYC. Deo was a third-year medical student in Burundi when he came to the United States. He spoke no English, knew no one, and had two hundred dollars. We glimpse his fear, re-live his humiliations, laugh at his misunderstandings, and feel his anger. Somehow Kidder has made this one man's experience universal. We feel responsible.

    3 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted January 11, 2010

    I Also Recommend:

    This is what everyone needs to read! What a difference kindness to others can make...and the difference one man can bring to the world!

    This is a wonderful story of a many that came to the US with no more than $200 in his pocket and found a way to become a medical doctor...without losing sight of what he could do back home to make a huge difference. It inspires you to realize that despite what you THINK are roadblocks in your life...are just challenges instead. We all need to think more like these wonderfully compassionate people.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted May 14, 2010

    Inspiring

    This is the inspiring story of Deo, a Tutsi who flees Burundi for New York City in 1994 after the start of genocidal violence there between the Hutus and the Tutsis. He was studying to be a doctor there, but he has to struggle just to survive in New York, sleeping in Central Park at night and working in a grocery store on the Upper East Side, as a delivery boy for $15 a day. He meets a woman in a church rectory while making a delivery, a former nun who decides to help. She finds him a benevolent couple who let him live with them in their Soho loft and help pay for his education at Columbia.
    At first, it is difficult for him to even talk about what he saw and what happened to him in Burundi, how he survived. But, eventually we hear about it. When the violence broke out, he fled on foot for Rwanda, avoiding the Hutu militias on the way. There he lived in refugee camps for months, hiding among the mostly Hutu refugees by keeping quiet and to himself. He was so ill that people left him alone for the most part. The last part of the book describes a trip he took with the author back to Africa in 2006, revisiting many of the areas that he passed through and stayed in during that time.
    This book is an excellent account of the horrors that occurred in that part of Africa at the time. You feel the fear and deprivations that Deo experienced as if you are there with him. I have not read any of Kidders other books, but based on this one I will read more of his work.
    Deo survived in part out of sheer luck, that occurs several times over the course of the time he was fighting to survive in Africa and New York City. But, maybe that is what it takes to avoid a genocide that killed so many. He often just happened to meet the right person, who was willing to extend to him just a small bit of help at a crucial time. Or, just dumb luck, like the time when he returned to Africa to visit and was not able to change his plane ticket for a short flight from Rwanda to Burundi for a bus ticket to travel with a friend, and then the bus was destroyed. It makes me think hard about how I should live my life, and I think I am more likely now to try to help people who desperately need it, even if only in small ways. You never know the full effect that your efforts can produce.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted March 20, 2010

    Engaging book for book clubs

    None of us in the book club knew anything about the Hutus and Tutsi's; and inf fact, we might not have picked up the book if we had known in advance the central theme.... we would have missed a very enlightening, well written, easy to read book. The books is hard to put down once you pick it up. The only part that was a little off was toward the end where Kidder includes himself in the story and narrates through his eyes.

    We were all very glad to have read this, just as with The Kite Runner and Three Cups of Tea and Stones Into Schools.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted February 6, 2010

    excellent book

    But warning, this book is very difficult to read! It is an amazing story of one man's journey from Africa to New York City. The detailed descriptions of the war torn and battered Burundi are heart breaking and eye opening. And not at all easy to read, but I felt like I learned a lot.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted November 14, 2009

    Deogratias is not your typical refugee or is he? Highly educated and talented but relegated to unskilled labor. This book will challenge you to consider how you view and treat refugees. You don't know when you may be dealing with another Deo.

    This book is not just a story about someone that survived one of the worst tragedies in human history. It's also about the continued suffering and persecution that Deo had to face as they tried to establish a life in the in a country that should have been a welcoming respite.

    This book provides an unflinching look at the human capacity for malevolence, the impact of dehumanizing a group of people, and the long-lasting effects of imperialism. It's hard to understand how the events of Burundi and Rwanda could have happened. It's even harder to understand how countries could have stood by and let it happen.

    Once you get past this, you then have to ask some uncomfortable questions about the treatment of refugees. Deo's determination to rebuild his life and to step back into the medical profession to which he had been called is met with setback after setback. Plagued by memories of the past and tormented by the unforgiven and opportunistic people of a new homeland, most people would give up but not Deo. Deo's journey is inspiring and reminds us of the resiliency of the human spirit despite all odds.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted November 11, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    A view inside the heart of darkness..and light.

    An absorbing view of an imagrant's journey as he flees from the unspeakable violence in Burundi and Rwanda between Tutsi and Hutu.
    For me, it started a bit slow as it depicted life in NYC for the character as a recent arrival, later going into the amazing experiences in his home country of Burundi.

    Memorable, and enlightening; it makes me want to understand the world more, and to appreciate the lives of others so far removed from my own.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 11, 2009

    Strength in What Remains

    Everyone should read this for what it tells us about America as well as Africa.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 18, 2009

    I Also Recommend:

    Inspiring and uplifting story with informative historical and political information

    Tracy Kidder is an engaging writer and really draws the reader into his material. I have not been a big fan of narrative nonfiction but Kidder has converted me with his well crafted story. It reads like the best novels yet offers insights into recent cultural upheavals that one expects more from academic manuscripts.

    It is almost hard to believe how successful this homeless African refugee becomes in New York. In a short period of time he goes from sleeping in Central Park to an Ivy League education including medical school.

    With our current dismal economy it is easy to be pessimistic about careers but this remarkable story will reawaken your belief in the American Dream. I think it is a good read for anyone and it is probably especially good for book clubs because there is a lot of information for discussion.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted August 23, 2013

    Tracy Kidder does it again!

    No one can make sense out of the Rwanda massacre. Yet, Kidder can make you understand it in the human story of one unlikely survivor. Amazing: he survives Rwanda genocide. More amazing: he survives New York City, broke and without language or skills. Even more amazing: when he survives, he returns to help heal his homeland, even the people that murdered his friends and family. Written by a master of prose journalism, this is a hard book to put down, and an impossible one to forget.

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  • Posted July 8, 2013

    This is a heartbreaking story of Deo┬┐s escape from his country p

    This 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 this would make a very interesting book for a book club. If you enjoy nonfiction or novels like Sarah’s Key by Tatiana deRosnay, this is an eye-opening and worthwhile read.  I would like to read Kidder’s Mountains Beyond Mountains: The Quest of Dr. Paul Farmer, A Man Who Would Cure the World.

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  • Posted April 2, 2013

    A great story told with a terrible since of pace and without a v

    A great story told with a terrible since of pace and without a very great writer. An ultimately dragging book with not much to be desired.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 25, 2012

    Highly recommend

    Required reading for school. Thouroughly enjoyed this book

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 24, 2012

    Need kits and mate

    Name is rowan star... if interested reply rowan

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  • Posted October 26, 2011

    Great read!

    I have several of Tracy Kidder's books and this did not disappoint. This is a gripping story. I appreciated that I would lose sense of the timeline, which mirrored the challenges of the character. I would definetly recommend this book!

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  • Posted October 22, 2011

    Amazing story

    This book is a must read! Even after witnessing the worst humanity has to offer, this gentle soul not only survives, but gives back to the country he escaped. This is so very inspiring!

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  • Posted June 7, 2011

    In-depth Bio

    I gave this book an extra star from my first opinion.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 24, 2011

    A MUST READ!!!!

    This story is truly inspiring! I had to read it for a college course and absolutely loved it. I strongly suggest reading this book and then checking out the fantastic things that are happening because of it.

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Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 100 Customer Reviews
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