Burn My Heart

Burn My Heart

5.0 2
by Beverly Naidoo
     
 

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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

Overview

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.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly

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.)

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VOYA - Jonatha Bayse
Mugo's family has worked for the Graysons for many years. Mugo's father tends the horses while Mugo is busy working in the kitchen. It was not always this way. Mugo's people used to work and cultivate the land before the British began their colonization. Now many Kenyans have decided to take back what belongs to them. The Mau Mau, an underground resistance group, is recruiting as many Kenyans as possible, but Mugo's family wants nothing to do with them. Mugo's family has always been loyal to the Graysons, but their honesty and trust is being put to the test. Naidoo's novel discusses the events surrounding the Emergency, an uprising of native Kenyans against the British colonists in 1952. The relationship between young British Mathew and Kenyan Mugo is strained once Mugo's family is accused of being a part of the Mau Mau. The novel alternates chapters between Mathew and Mugo so the reader gains both boys' perspectives. It is an interesting story of which few people will be aware but might wish to know more. This solid novel would be a good multicultural addition to a teen collection. Reviewer: Jonatha Bayse
School Library Journal

Gr 6-9

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

Kirkus Reviews
Set in Kenya between November 1951 and March 1953, when indigenous Kikuyus fiercely resisted the British settlers who had stolen their lands, this somber story sheds light on a dark period of rebellion and repression fueled by racial prejudice and fear. The third-person narration, peppered with Kikuyu and Swahili words and phrases, shifts its focus between 13-year-old Mugo, a Kikuyu, and 11-year-old Mathew Grayson, son of a white landholder; they have grown up together on land once owned by Mugo's ancestors. Unlike many of his white neighbors, who fear their workers will join the secret Mau Mau society and attack them, Mr. Grayson trusts Mugo's father, who manages his stables. At school, Mathew is troubled by an arrogant bully whose father is the new police inspector, intent on crushing the illegal Mau Maus-whom Mugo's brother has joined in infiltrating Grayson's farm. As the tension mounts, readers will rightly fear that no good end can result; like Mathew and Mugo, readers' hearts will be burned by this intense slice of historical realism. (author's note, afterword, glossary, Kikuyu and Swahili names) (Historical fiction. 10-15)
Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books
"Naidoo does an impressive job of maintaining the child’s perspective on the rebellion. The resolution is poignant in its lack of resolution; the pain is left raw and untended, as it should be."
The Bulletin for the Center for Children's Books
“Naidoo does an impressive job of maintaining the child’s perspective on the rebellion. The resolution is poignant in its lack of resolution; the pain is left raw and untended, as it should be.”
Bulletin of the Center for Children’s Books
“Naidoo does an impressive job of maintaining the child’s perspective on the rebellion. The resolution is poignant in its lack of resolution; the pain is left raw and untended, as it should be.”
Bulletin of the Center for Children’s Books
“Naidoo does an impressive job of maintaining the child’s perspective on the rebellion. The resolution is poignant in its lack of resolution; the pain is left raw and untended, as it should be.”

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780141321240
Publisher:
Penguin UK
Publication date:
08/28/2007
Pages:
224
Sales rank:
640,560
Product dimensions:
5.00(w) x 7.75(h) x 0.60(d)
Age Range:
12 Years

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