Alternating its focus between Mathew, a white farmer's son growing up in Kenya during the 1950s, and Mugo, a native African close to Mathew's age, this novel paints a grim picture of British imperialism and revolution. Mathew and Mugo have been lifelong friends, even though Mugo has been a trusted servant in Mathew's household since the day he saved the then six-year-old Mathew by killing a snake. But the friends' loyalty is tested when rumors of deadly uprisings against white settlers sweep the country, and two groups, the Mau Mau (a band of angry revolutionaries) and "red hats" (police guards trying to control the Mau Mau), become a threat. Examining the effects of hatred and distrust, Naidoo (The Other Side of Truth) casts steadfast Mugo as a far nobler and more likable figure than Mathew, who fails to stand up for Mugo at critical moments. If the author's political message overshadows characters' development at times, the book successfully evokes the fears and moral dilemmas plaguing both European and native Africans in the post-WWII era. Ages 10-up. (Jan.)Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
Burn My Heartby Beverly Naidoo
The Mau Mau – the name of a secret society that once struck terror into the hearts of British settlers in Kenya. An episode in history that ended in a State of Emergency, with violent and brutal acts dividing a nation. This is an intensely personal and vivid story of two boys: one black, one white. Once they were friends even though their circumstances are… See more details below
The Mau Mau – the name of a secret society that once struck terror into the hearts of British settlers in Kenya. An episode in history that ended in a State of Emergency, with violent and brutal acts dividing a nation. This is an intensely personal and vivid story of two boys: one black, one white. Once they were friends even though their circumstances are very different. But in a country riven by fear and prejudice, even the best of friends can betray one another . . . Internationally acclaimed and award-winning author Beverley Naidoo explores new territory in this beautifully realized and moving story set in Britain's colonial past.
Naidoo sets this novel in Kenya in the early 1950s, at the beginning of the State of Emergency, which led to the deaths of tens of thousands of Kenyans. Mathew Grayson, son of a prosperous white farmer, and Mugo, son of the Kikuyu man in charge of the horses on the farm, are friends, with all the complexities and inequalities inevitable in such a relationship. As the secret and illegal Kikuyu opposition grows, the differences in the lives of the two boys become sharper and clearer. Then Mathew and a boy from school accidentally cause potential danger to explode into disaster. Naidoo is at her signature best when describing the relationships between the settlers and the indigenous Kenyan people: her careful description of the dialogue and the characters' visible responses is all it takes to lay bare the poison of racism. The story is grounded in the boys, seen through the collision between Mathew's childish reality, and the far scarier adult reality that Mugo, only a little older, is forced to accept. As the strands of the story finally come together and ignite in a literal conflagration, the narrative is heart-stopping. Mathew is faced with a dilemma that will ultimately test his courage: will he tell the truth and risk his standing in the settler community, or will he betray Mugo? The consequences are terrible and brutal. In addition to being an extremely effective tool in ethics discussions, the story will speak powerfully to readers concerned about justice and human rights, as well as those simply looking for a well-told story.-Sue Giffard, Ethical Culture Fieldston School, New York City
- Penguin UK
- Publication date:
- Sales rank:
- Product dimensions:
- 5.00(w) x 7.75(h) x 0.60(d)
- Age Range:
- 12 Years
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