Strength in What Remains

Almost no one knows where Burundi is. Usually the first response when we tell people where we're headed next is "where's that?" or "I had to look that up on a map." Many people have never heard of the tiny country before. In fact, I googled images for Burundi maps the other day and one of the first hits was actually THIS website. So, imagine my surprise when several months ago Eric and I were telling a friend about our trip to Burundi and he replied, "I'm actually reading a book about Burundi right now!" What? People write books and see movies about Rwanda, not Burundi. He went on to tell me about the book, which I just recently finished reading.

The book is called, "Strength in What Remains," and if the title alone doesn't make you want to read it, let me review the book briefly. It's a story about a man named Deo, a Burundian who was attending medical school in Bujumbura in the mid 90s when the genocide started, and his journey. He initially escaped to Rwanda, then back to Burundi, and finally to New York, where he had a horrible struggle trying to survive. Deo eventually made it back to Burundi and has opened a clinic in the southern part of the country. I couldn't put this book down. It was written by Tracy Kidder, who also wrote one of my favorite books "Mountains Beyond Mountains" about the work of Dr. Paul Farmer in Haiti (and elsewhere). He tells Deo's story in powerful fashion, making it real and personal and inserting himself as a character travelling home with Deo, full of fears and doubts about this recently post war country. He asks hard questions, as does Deo--why did God let this happen? Why did Deo live, when so many others died? But ultimately...there is hope and redemption in his story as the war ends, and Deo gets to return, and is trying to help his people rebuild a nation.

It's incredible to me to think that right at the time when we become interested in this tiny country of Burundi, a national best seller by a Pulitzer Prize winning author comes out about a Burundian man who is in the MEDICAL field and has returned to open a clinic. Perhaps our paths will cross with Deo's one day. If you are interested in learning more about the country we will hopefully spend the next years of our life in, it is a fantastic book for more info and background. Even if you don't care about Burundi in particular, it's a great book about human struggles and triumphs and emotions, written by a talented author. Hope you enjoy.


Sarah Lorenz said...

Ten copies available at the Ann Arbor Public Library, plus an additional in large print. Minus one just requested by me, but still plenty left for the home crowd.

Anonymous said...

Thanks Rachel! I've requested a sound recording for Daniel and I to listen to on the way to/from school everyday. Nashville library has another 5 copies available. Cathye

Anonymous said...

I am DEVOURING this book! THANK YOU for posting it.
Nancy Love
used to be at RVA music teacher

Unknown said...

Just finished this book this afternoon based on your recommendation (from the Canton, MI library). Fascinating! Thank you for telling us about it. I look forward to hearing the piece that you will play in the recovery of Burundi.