In the Shadow of 10,000 Hills

In the Shadow of 10,000 Hills

by Jennifer Haupt


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In 1968, a disillusioned and heartbroken Lillian Carlson left Atlanta after the assassination of Martin Luther King. She found meaning in the hearts of orphaned African children and cobbled together her own small orphanage in the Rift Valley alongside the lush forests of Rwanda.

Three decades later, in New York City, Rachel Shepherd, lost and heartbroken herself, embarks on a journey to find the father who abandoned her as a young child, determined to solve the enigma of Henry Shepherd, a now-famous photographer.

When an online search turns up a clue to his whereabouts, Rachel travels to Rwanda to connect with an unsuspecting and uncooperative Lillian. While Rachel tries to unravel the mystery of her father's disappearance, she finds unexpected allies in an ex-pat doctor running from his past and a young Tutsi woman who lived through a profound experience alongside her father.

Set against the backdrop of a country grieving and trying to heal after a devastating civil war, follow the intertwining stories of three women who discover something unexpected: grace when there can be no forgiveness.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781771681339
Publisher: Central Avenue Publishing
Publication date: 04/01/2018
Pages: 384
Sales rank: 236,532
Product dimensions: 6.00(w) x 17.10(h) x 1.20(d)

About the Author

Jennifer Haupt went to Rwanda as a journalist in 2006, a decade after the genocide that wiped out over a million people, to explore the connections between forgiveness and grief. She spent a month travelling in the 10,000 hills with a guide, interviewing genocide survivors and humanitarian aid workers, and came home to Seattle with something unexpected: the bones of a novel. Her essays and articles have been published in O, The Oprah Magazine, The Rumpus, Psychology Today, Travel & Leisure, The Seattle Times, Spirituality & Health, and many other publications. In the Shadow of 10,000 Hills is her first novel.

Read an Excerpt


{ August 15, 2000 — New York City }

Rachel Shepherd braces a hand against the mattress, rolls onto her side in slow- motion so as not to rock the boat of her bed and awaken her husband. She sips in air and waits out the ripple of achy pain across her lower abdomen, traces a knob of elbow or knee nudging her ribs. Easy champ, no kickboxing ... or spin class. There's no standing on her feet mixing drinks, that's for sure, but this is no vacation. Four months of wallowing in bed, not even a walk to Washington Square for a hot pretzel and to watch the acrobatic skateboard punks. She sits up. Another contraction, lower this time. They seem to come in pairs. But that's normal. Perfectly normal, those were the ob-gyn's exact words. Bed rest is merely a precaution. Braxton-Hicks, not real labor. This isn't real.

"Get you something?" Mick mumbles into his pillow. Rachel waits a beat, but he doesn't reach out to her. He doesn't flip on the light. Doesn't ask again.

"I'm fine, just need to pee." She dips a toe out of bed. Water, lots of water. According to What to Expect When You're Expecting, fluids may ease the contractions. But won't that make her have to pee again? Isn't she supposed to stay in bed? The doctor said she could walk around the apartment, but how often? Why hadn't she thought to ask? She swipes a baby book off the stack on the bedside table and holds it to her chest. Two weeks ago, she had sat at her mom's bedside, brainstorming baby names, debating the best diapers (cloth, definitely cloth), comparing cravings, asking for advice on a million little things a mother should know. Who can she ask now?

Across the hall in the almost-nursery, Rachel blinks against walls stark with primer. A dozen shades of yellow paint chips are scattered at her feet like a field of daisies. Against the far wall, within arm's reach of a skeletal half- assembled crib, is a flea-market-find desk with beveled edges. Her designated study space/future office. She eases into the Herman Miller chair with a wobbly arm, a cast-off from Mick's office, and pushes aside a dog-eared catalogue of fall courses at New York University. Mick's right, thirty-three is getting too old to keep bartender's hours, especially with a baby on the way. The beauty of her job, though, is the freedom. That, and the music. When she moved here from Jacksonville fourteen years ago, she couldn't believe someone would actually pay her to listen to up-and-coming bands — new wave and punk, and then grunge — while sliding bottles of beer across the bar.

Now, she shakes martinis at the Blue Note. The classic blues singers are her favorites: Ella, B.B., Etta, Buddy. These legends are from another era, before slam dancing and mosh pits, when music was more sensual than sexed-up. The songs are real stories, told straight from the heart, of love and loss. Sometimes, she finds herself turning away from the stage — restocks the condiment tray or examines rows of colorful bottles on glass shelves — her face flushed with a vulnerability she doesn't want exposed to customers sitting at the bar. There's a connection, not only with the singer's aching heart but also her own desire. After the song ends she turns back to taking orders for cocktails and making small talk, the desire gone.

The cardboard box wedged under the desk is heavier than she remembers. A nurse's aide packed up her mom's few belongings after she succumbed to a fifteen-year battle with liver cancer. Rachel winces at the scrape-and-thump of dragging the box out into the room, glances toward the door and then exhales a mixture of disappointment and relief: her dog, Louie, not her husband, pads in from the hallway. The collie-mix gives the cardboard box an indifferent sniff. Rachel scratches his ear as she rereads the note that came with it in the mail last week: Ms. Shepherd, you must have forgotten ... But, no, she hadn't forgotten to pick up these scraps of her mom's life after the funeral.

Nobody leaves. This was their pact. Just the two of them. She had been angry that her mom broke it. She rummages through this hodgepodge of her mom's life: a pink silk scarf, a crystal rosebud vase that was a recent Mother's Day present, a plastic bag of glittering rhinestone jewelry, a few photos of the two of them that had been taped to the fridge, and a manila envelope that probably holds personal documents. She removes a plastic Macy's bag plump with the remnants of a half-finished green and blue afghan for the baby's crib. "I'll finish this before she's born," she promises, and then says to her stomach, "Your Gram would have loved teaching you to knit." Merilee would have showed her granddaughter the right way to apply make-up, spoiled her with frilly dresses, the kind Rachel refused to wear, spent afternoons sharing her secret recipes for triple-fudge brownies and the crispiest fried chicken ever. She would have loved recruiting someone else into their "girls only" club.

There's not much else in the box that's worth saving. Rachel uses the scarf to wipe a snowy mantle of dust off a silver-framed photo. They look so formal, almost regal: Her father in a tuxedo, brown curls slicked back off his broad Slavic face. Merilee's shiny dress the perfect shade of buffed pearl against alabaster skin, waves of auburn hair swept into a regal updo, her wedding veil a crown. The newlyweds gaze at each other like they're the only two people in the room. It's a little unsettling to see her parents looking as happy as she and Mick had been exchanging vows under the oak tree in his parents' backyard at the foot of the Catskills. There were dozens of O'Sheas, members of their church, and neighbors. A small group of Mick's friends and their wives, from his Wall Street office and racquetball club, who had become Rachel's friends too, traveled to the quaint town in Upstate New York. Her mom walked her down the aisle.

Next, Rachel hooks a finger under the flap of the manila envelope; it seems to breathe open, exhaling a handful of yellow-edged photos onto the desk with a crumpled sigh. She vaguely recognizes the pictures her father had shot as a photographer at The St. Augustine Record, his dream job after finishing high school. She lays them out side-by-side, and slots them into the photo album of her memory. Some of these images from the mid-sixties were displayed on the walls of her father's office at the ad agency where he worked: Martin Luther King, Junior behind a pulpit; several burly white policemen standing over a black woman curled up in a ball on the street; John F. Kennedy on the steps of the Jacksonville City Hall; a young white boy helping an elderly black woman up the front steps of a bus. These photos always struck her as a montage of a different world where her father had once lived, where he met a president and took photos of interesting — sometimes dangerous — people. After he left, she imagined him travelling back to this foreign land. Merilee told her the photos were lost; it followed that her father was lost, too. Of course, that's why he never wrote or called. She didn't want to upset her mom, bring on the darkness that sent Merilee to bed with the shades drawn for sometimes days, even before her father left. And so, for years Rachel worried silently: How would her father stay warm? Find stuff to eat? Find his way back to her.

The truth is, she envies the family stories Mick and his three sisters told at their wedding. She envies the way, every year, her husband looks forward to Christmas at his parents' house, with relatives coming from Baltimore and somewhere in Ohio. She envies Mick's easy smile as he strolls through his hometown, waves to neighbors. She never knows quite what to do, where to sit, in the white clapboard house where he still has a bedroom. It had been just Rachel and her mom in the tomb-like house in suburban Jacksonville with not enough furniture. This is still our home, Merilee maintained stubbornly, sometimes working two secretarial jobs to make mortgage payments.

There's one photo stuck in the envelope, the thin, splintery wooden frame rough against Rachel's fingers as she coaxes it out. She props the time-worn image of a young black woman dressed in a navy suit with a Peter Pan collar on the desk beside the silver-framed happy newlyweds. Rachel studies the woman trapped under dull glass: she stands in a church, her hands braced against a pew, slivers of gold and purple light from a stained glass window falling around her like an exploding meteor. Her face appears almost angelic, heartbreakingly sincere. In the distance is the blurred image of a preacher behind a pulpit. The date in the top corner of the Life magazine cover is April 4, 1968, the day Reverend King Junior was assassinated. The bold-faced headline reads: The End of a Dream.

Rachel picks up the photo, remembers it in clear view when she sat in the leather chair at her father's desk. She had, as a child, been mesmerized by the girlish face with grown-up narrowed eyes, her chin jutted forward. The girl in the church window appears downright fierce, defiant. Hopeful. Rachel came to regard hope as a weakness, a silly wish that couldn't possibly come true. When her parents fought, which was often, her mom called her father a dreamer — said it like a curse. When her father left, she felt guilty, as if she were betraying her mom, daydreaming about where he might be. How he might one day return. Eventually she stopped thinking of him altogether. By the time she moved to New York she stopped hoping for any kind of love to show up, settling instead for affairs with interchangeable men, slightly more hygienic versions of Kurt Cobain. Men who usually insisted on going to her place instead of their own, where Rachel suspected a wife or girlfriend was likely waiting.

One lazy Sunday morning, Mick O'Shea sat next her on a bench in Battery Park to watch the ferries glide past Lady Liberty. She was impressed that he asked for permission. She said yes, although he wasn't her type: bristly blonde hair and a ruddy face, handsome in a J. Crew sort of way. She was intrigued by this guy — this man — her age, but he came off much older, a little stiff and serious but in a cute way. Mick shyly called to ask her out on actual dates, wore Calvin Klein suits and had business cards that read Junior Financial Planner. He "courted her" for six years, half-joking that his persistence would eventually wear her down. Their courtship was a game and she enjoyed being thought of as a prize. Their wedding day, three years ago, was the happiest day of her life.

Rachel chips away at the crumbly wooden frame that holds the Life magazine cover, her eyes flitting to the silver-framed wedding photo of her parents. It occurs to her, not for the first time, that becoming pregnant has been another kind of game during the past four years, a challenge that bonded her and Mick. Finally, she can offer him a real prize. Their baby is what makes them not merely a couple, but a real family.

"Her name is Serena," Rachel confided to her mom during their last visit at the Seaview Nursing Home. "It's a secret, not even Mick knows." It was nice to see a flush rise to Merilee's pale face, cheeks that had held a young girl's blush until recently. Her eyes sparkled with the news, blue tinged with violet like a rare gem. "I won't tell," she promised between labored breaths, tapping a conspirator's finger against coral-pink lips. It was the last secret they shared. She died two days later.

Now, Rachel looks out the pocket window between her desk and the crib. A fog of light emanates from the streetlamp. She cradles her stomach with both hands and makes a wish, aiming it toward where the North Star should be. Serena. It's superstitious but she's still afraid to say her daughter's name aloud, afraid to somehow jinx her existence. Still. It's been over a month since the end of the first trimester, when the doctor announced they were officially out of the danger zone. That night, after toasting their future astronaut or rock star with bubbly cider, she and Mick made love on the living room rug for the first time since finding out she was pregnant. She imagined they were being transported back two years, before the pressure of thermometers, calendars, and positioning their bodies for optimum baby-making. Before the miscarriage at ten weeks last year. She bends over, a hand on her lower back, to pluck a paint chip from the floor. Bumblebee Yellow or Golden Wheat. They couldn't decide, went back and forth on what shade to paint the nursery. Like they had all of the time in the world.

One side of the frame snaps in her hand, a sharp edge of glass slicing her palm. Rachel sucks at her wound and stares at the girl in the church window, shattered but still in one piece, on the floor. She picks icy slivers off the photo taped to cardboard, and then examines it more closely. On the back are several crossed out phone numbers and an address in Atlanta. Why the hell did her father keep track of this woman? Maybe her mom had good reason to suspect he was having an affair. Did he leave them for her?

The laptop computer sputters as if Rachel has awakened it from deepest sleep when she taps the "on" button. The dial-up connection groans. She drums her fingers on the desktop. What if Henry Shepherd is in Atlanta? Fucking Atlanta, two hours by plane from Jacksonville, not Timbuktu. Serena stirs; Rachel's hand softens and floats onto her stomach. The other hand reaches for a snow globe from a shelf above her desk: A snow-capped mountain, above it bright green cursive script: Merry Christmas from Mt. Kenya. It's the one and only gift her father has sent to her during the past twenty-six years, the Christmas after he left. The computer screen flickers from black to blue, and she shakes the orb like a Magic 8-Ball. As a girl, before she stopped hoping, she had watched these papery flakes and glitter drift to the ground and imagined her father's footprints in the snow. Now, she sees two sets of footprints, one very small.

Alta Vista pops up on the screen and she types the address in Atlanta into the search engine box. The computer springs to life, awhirl with ticking sounds. Rachel leans in closer toward the screen. Maybe the photo her father took, an impression frozen in time, might lead her to him. Bring him back home. A name materializes on the screen along with the address: Lillian Carlson. She hasn't lived at that address since the late sixties. A small flare of hope lights up within Rachel as she scans a short list of website links, one with an email address that's definitely not in Atlanta.


{ September 15, 2000 - Mubaro, Rwanda }

Nearly thirty years, and it never gets any easier when a child shows up on front porch of Lillian Carlson's modest farm in the shadow of the Virunga Mountains. "How about some lunch, sugar?" she coaxes, offering the plate of plantain, rice and beans to the boy with dull-brown eyes, who is probably judging from his height. She resists the urge to reach out and hold him close, assure him everything's going to be okay. That's not true and she won't lie to these kids, not after all they've been through by the time they land here. The boy is so thin, practically swallowed up by her wicker rocker, as he considers his bare feet, toes digging into the bamboo mat.

"Well, I'll leave your lunch right here on the table while I check on those cookies you smell baking." Her new ward cuts a glance toward her and she grabs the opening, leans a bit closer. "Personally, I'm torn between cocoa, peanut butter and cardamom," she confides, "so I mix up all three in my secret recipe." Lillian takes a minute to arrange a full set of silverware on a cloth napkin in front of the boy, pulls a few droopy petals off the vase of rainbow-colored wildflowers, and then wipes a powdery veneer of pollen off the mahogany tabletop and rubs a thumb across her fingers. Spring has finally come to the Rift Valley after a long, dry winter; her favorite time of year. Filled with tiny miracles.

A knot of black-masked vervet monkeys perched in a nearby acacia tree chatter heartily as Lillian opens the screen door. "Don't you worry about them, all talk and no action," she says, waving a hand toward the little bandits who are too shy to come down and swipe the boy's food. They're more likely to give up in a few minutes and go raid the pea patch at the side of the house. She keeps watching the boy — nobody at the hospital could get him to reveal his name — from the front hallway, out of his sight. He keeps an eye on the monkeys, slides his chair closer to the plate and grabs handfuls of food, ignoring the silverware. Lillian smiles triumphantly. Sometimes that's what it takes, her up and leaving, before a child trusts the bounty is actually for him, accepts that there are no strings attached.


Excerpted from "In the Shadow of 10,000 Hills"
by .
Copyright © 2018 Jennifer Haupt.
Excerpted by permission of Central Avenue Marketing Ltd..
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

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In the Shadow of 10,000 Hills 4.9 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 8 reviews.
Marie Riley More than 1 year ago
This was a proof copy from Netgalley. The sweep of the novel and the depth of storytelling is massive. You can tell that this has been written by someone who understands both writing and their subject. Built upon real- life events and the people who experienced them Haupt has woven this into a spellbinding piece of literary fiction. I wavered between 4 and 5 stars because some of it made me feel really uncomfortable- however in the end i think it is that discomfort that the author creates that makes this a 5 star read. I will certainly look for more by this author
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
IN THE SHADOW OF 1000 HILLS by Jennifer Haupt This is one of the finest books I have read recently. It opens with the picture of a blood spattered child, hiding in a ruined shack, frozen with fear. What she witnessed, the horror of people chopped to death with machetes, will never leave her, the screams of friends and family who did not escape haunting her dreams forever. She cowers in the filth waiting for the return of a man who has wrapped her in his shirt, promising to return when it is safe. This is Rwanda during the horrific genocide that occurred there in the 1990s. The story moves to the present day in New York where Rachel and her husband are struggling with another miscarriage and the recent death of Rachel’s mother. The trauma has awakened Rachel’s fond memories of her loving father, who left when she was a child, and a desire to find out what happened to him. Where did he go? Why did he not keep in touch as promised? Is he alive? A skilled photographer. he travelled extensively in search of further unique shots after one of his pictures featured on the front cover of Life magazine. With the use of the internet and an address she found while clearing out her mother’s house Rachel manages to trace Lillian, who as a girl was the focus in that moving first cover. Despite her husband’s misgivings Rachel determines to visit Lillian in her own country,Rwanda, in the hope that there she will find the answers she seeks. Lillian is caring for traumatised youngsters, orphans of the genocide, still traumatised and one, the girl in the shack, terrified at the possibility she might have to be a witness at the trial of some of the perpetrators. The flashbacks suffered by the victims are a graphic insight to the unbridled horror that took place during that time. Discovering the almost unbelievable atrocities that took place is emotional and heartrending. What courage survivors displayed, when with forgiveness and compassion, they gathered up what was left of a broken society, came to terms with the bitter legacy of divisions, often within families, and the dark memories that must haunt them still. It is a tender poignant book, containing the best and the worst of human nature. A powerful story that is moving and informative. Many of us will remember the media coverage of the Rwandan war but this book brings it into your home revealing how little the media conveyed to us in western society ,highlighting the human tale of the worst kind of savagery. And yet it is also a love story peopled with vivid believable characters that I suspect are based on truth. The skilful way this emotional story is woven around historical fact has created one of the finest examples of literary fiction I have read for some time. A unique book that will linger in my mind for a very long time and one that is impossible to put down. The characters are all on a journey, for truth, forgiveness and learning to live with intense grief and this writer has skilfully woven a gripping tale leading them to find peace, forgiveness and the ability to move on with their lives. A debut novel from an experienced journalist and hopefully, not her last. She visited Rwanda to research the connection between forgiveness and grief, from which came this novel. I suspect a great percentage of the tale is based on events that did occur. A revealing, haunting, heartrending, superbly crafted tale. I loved it and was greatly affected by it.
Ann-S More than 1 year ago
I read Jennifer Haupt's memorable In the Shadow of 10,000 Hills several weeks ago and I am, unfortunately, just getting to writing my thoughts on this incredible book. I came in blindly as far as my knowledge of the horrific genocide in Rwanda in the 1990s. If I remember correctly, I was in college at the start of that decade, then off to grad school, and just trying to make life happen without losing my mind. Yes, first world problems, for sure. I am a little embarrassed that I lacked the knowledge related to the slaughter of innocent lives in Africa. This book gives details of what occurred during that time, but it is so much more. Rachel suffers dual family losses that send her in search of her father, a photojournalist who left her and her mother when Rachel was young. Her search leads her to Lillian, the woman who her father began a relationship while documenting the 1960s Civil Rights movement. Rachel's quest takes her to Rwanda to uncover the mystery that was her father, Henry. Her quest doesn't take her on a linear path to who her father was. This is a story of love, abandonment, loss, and grief as told through the aftermath of post-genocide Rwanda. What motivated her father to leave her and her mother for Lillian? Why did he then abandon Lillian after the home he made in Africa? Rachel planned to take a short trip to seek closure and finds closure is not left without more mystery, more unknown. Her trip becomes a full immersion into the life that Lillian has chosen, or, rather, has been forced to come to terms with. Haupt exquisitely describes the atmosphere of the Rwandan physical and social landscape with depth and sensitivity. Her characters hold secrets that are their only way of coping with witnessing and dealing with the aftermath of violence. They struggle with abandonment; however, the greatest message that her characters demonstrate is one of resilience in the face of unbearable trauma. My phrasing may be trite: but, family is not forged from blood. Family bonds are made by those with whom we share not only abandonment, loss, grief, and trauma; but with whom we find a way to make sense of it all. It's a stunning work in the study of trauma and human resilience. This is a book that would be excellent for book groups. Not only because of the strong characters, but because of the slowly boiling plot. Although the author is a seasoned journalist, she is also a talented writer of fiction. I'm glad that she decided to share her talent.
C_Fowler More than 1 year ago
In The Shadow of 10,000 Hills is both a haunting and lovely book that deals with the effects of the Rwandan genocide. It's about very different characters from different walks of life that fate has brought together in Rwanda six years after the 1994 mass slaughter of the Tutsis by a government-backed, hate-fueled Hutu people (it's estimated 800,000, mostly the Tutsi minority, were murdered). There's Lillian, a civil-rights activist who made Rwanda her home and opened her house to raise orphans, Tucker, a UCLA medical school drop-out who desperately wants to help the Rwandan people, Henry, a photographer in search of the perfect photo, Henry's daughter, Rachel, who he abandoned when she was 8 so that he could go to Africa to search for that special photograph as well as for his former lover, Lillian, and Nadine, a victim of the horrific cruelty of the Hutu massacre. The story follows these characters lives from before, during and after the genocide, and their attempts to come to terms with themselves, and also this country, so full of beauty, that allowed the unspeakable to occur and now is desperately trying to heal while facing the magnitude of insurmountable horrors. Some Rwandans say that in the 90 days in which the massacre occurred, that Jesus was lost in the Rift Valley with tears so heavy in his eyes that he could not find his way out. Yet there is hope among all of the tragedy and sorrow, perhaps best said by Lillian: "Maybe...everyone here is summoning what's left of their faith, some praying and some only hoping that mankind's capacity for love is greater than the history of our deeds." In The Shadow of 10,000 Hills, Jennifer Haupt is able to deal with the horror of the Rwandan genocide's impact on both Rwandans and outsiders honestly and does not downplay the horrors; but there is always with an underlying theme of hope and compassion that culminates in a powerful and wonderful ending. I recommend this book without reservation, and it is one whose story and characters will stay with me for a long time. I received a copy of this book from NetGalley. All thoughts and opinions are my own.
mweinreich More than 1 year ago
4.5 sad but ever so relevant stars It is always difficult to think about the events of genocide. The words never again seem to ring in our minds and yet never again has happened so many times since the horrendous Holocaust set in place by Hitler. In this novel, we look at the survivors of the Rwandan genocide. How does one continue onward knowing that they have survived and wondering often why me? The characters in this novel are wonderfully diverse and the author offers an insight that is both poignant and filled with the sadness of loss. From the character of Lillian, a young girl initially involved in the civil rights movement, who then moved to Rwanda to open an orphanage, to the ever complex and oftentimes hard to understand to Henry, a white man who times dictated could not love a black woman, the tale is woven. Henry love Lillian and yet he leaves her seeming to wander about as he tries to capture through photography the world he sees. We meet Rachel, a daughter from Henry's fist marriage, searching for a father she never really knew. There is Tucker, a medical student who goes to Rwanda looking to help and find meaning in his life. There are also the survivors of this genocide Chloe and Nadine who struggle with being left behind in a world where nothing remains of their family. This is a debut novel and this author has shown a wonderful ability to capture the pain, the loss, and the sheer effort that people go through trying to rebuild not only themselves but the country of 10,000 hills.
brf1948 More than 1 year ago
When you read or hear the word "genocide" extreme examples come immediately to mind - The Nazi genocide during WWII or even perhaps the Assyrian/Armenian genocide in 1915. But there have been very few periods of time during the 20th and 21st century when someone in the world wasn't trying to obliterate their competition for food or money or bragging rights by mass murder. The Rwandan Hutu's and Tutsi's battled one another from 1962 until a forced ceasefire in 1993. On April 6, 1994 a plane carrying Rwanda's Hutu governing leader Juvenal Habyarimana and Burundian President Cyprien Ntaryamira crashed on it's descent into Kijali. The following days of maham brought the total of dead to half million to a million people. Over 70% of the Tutsi residents of Rwanda were murdered or tortured and murdered or raped and murdered. There was no recourse. There was no access to safe ground. There was no hope. Jennifer Haupt has taken all of that and put it into a clear, concise telling that makes it plain and personal and also keeps the heart involved. It is works such as this that will make the world a much smaller, much kinder place. Thank you. I received a free electronic copy of this historical based on fact novel in exchange for an honest review. Thank you all for sharing your hard work with me.
KimMc More than 1 year ago
A tapestry of lives revolving around one man; a father, a husband, a lover, who inadvertently brings together the different women in his life. Centered around both the US Civil Rights Movement and the 1994 Rwandan slaughter, Haupt entwines the histories of two nations within the stories of these women who are searching for hope, humanity and love, and who ultimately find themselves and the peace they need. The subject matter is tragic, raw and heartbreaking, yet Haupt shines that light of hope throughout. This one is powerful. *I received an arc from the publisher through NetGalley for an honest review
Laeljeanne More than 1 year ago
This is not the first child Rachel Shepherd has lost, but it’s the one that stayed with her the longest, becoming a stillborn baby with a name rather than a miscarriage. She is heartbroken and feeling adrift after losing this baby, her mother recently, and possibly her marriage. She longs for family, for her roots, and so begins searching for her long-lost, journalist father, following the trail to a mysterious woman from his past, an American who raises orphans in Rwanda. Her father’s history is complicated, with her birth being the catalyst for the seemingly wrong turn in his youth. Ambiguous feelings arise with each new discovery, the hurt surfacing to be dealt with and move toward healing. Rachel’s need for family dredges up old wounds in Lillian, the inscrutable, second wife of her father, who does her best to stay above the quagmire of these ancient pains. Things have changed, and everyone finds something they didn’t know they were looking for, and didn’t know they needed. This book digs down deep into the complexities of decisions affecting relationships of spouses, parent and child, and chosen family. It also portrays the genocide of Rwanda at an individual level, delving into the politics and showing the impossibility of the situation for former friends and neighbors. I was fortunate to receive a digital ARC through NetGalley of this wonderful novel.