This month marks the release of Jennifer Myhre’s 3rd book in the Rwendigo Tales chronicles. Our family has already read and loved the first two books in the series, “A Chameleon, A Boy, and a Quest” and “A Bird, a Girl, and a Rescue”, and I was really excited to read her newest book, “A Forest, A Flood, and an Unlikely Star”, which might be my favorite one yet.
What do I like about these books? I think they show a real side of Africa, presented by someone who has lived here and loved the land and the people. So often, the only side of African life that is presented in the news, books, or movies is broken, desolate, impoverished, and hungry. And, truthfully, the countries where we live ARE those things. But those of us who live here know another side of Africa, too. Incredible beauty, amazing perseverance, community, joy, love. Jennifer’s stories capture that. They are set in Uganda, but the language and culture is similar enough that my kids love seeing “their home” in the stories as well. In this book, a young boy named Kusiima is caring for his grandmother and young sister, who is severely malnourished and developmentally delayed. His mother has died, his father has abandoned them. Kusiima gets mixed up into a tale of “forest poachers” and gorillas and has to make difficult choices about what it means to do the right thing, how to love, how to forgive. There are no talking animals like in other stories, but still an element of the mystical in the friendship Kusiima forms with a homely donkey.
As always, Jennifer is able to weave the story in a realistic but hopeful way—these countries that we love are broken, full of broken people and tragic stories, full of AIDS and war and injustice. BUT, and this is an important but, there is always redemption. There is always hope. These is always God working for His people. Towards the end of the book, Kusiima is told:
“All of my struggles and all that you’ve suffered because of me and this broken world, well, they are all a part of our story. They always will be. But they aren’t the end of our story.”
And because the struggles are not the end of the story, Kusiima can keep going. He can keep forgiving. We can keep working. Those of you who know Jennifer know that she is not just an author whose book I am reviewing—she’s my area director for Serge. And I’m not just writing a good review for her book because of that. I can tell you in all honesty that she writes these books from personal experience in multiple hospitals and countries around East Africa. To her, to us, this is not just a made up story of a fictional child, but this is a story that could represent many people we know. And, bonus, part of the proceeds from this book go to a fund to benefit kids just like Kusiima, living and working in hope and tragedy, working for a better life and a better world. If you want to buy a copy, check it out here and here.