Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Left to Tell by Immaculee Ilibagiza

From the product description: In the spring of 1994, more than one million people were murdered in the Rwandan genocide. This is the story of how Immaculee survived certain death, along with seven other women, by hiding in a very small bathroom for more than 3 months. Day after day, for months, the killers would search nearby – gleefully chanting “kill them big, kill them small, kill them, kill them, kill them all!”

With uncommon sincerity, Immaculee shares with us her soul's struggle through disbelief to anger and rage and, ultimately, forgiveness. She is living proof of the power of prayer and positive thinking.

Oh my, there just aren't words to describe how reading about the genocide in Rwanda effects me. I have read about the genocide before, most recently in Tracy Kidder's Strength in What Remains, but it just doesn't get any easier. This book was especially gripping because it was a woman's memoir. Although the genocide was just as devastating to the male population, the women seem more vulnerable because they often were raped and tortured first. This one bothered me more than Deo's story in Strength in What Remains, is it because it was more horrific - can you put these horrible acts on a continuum and say this is worse than that? No, it's just that Immmaculee was a woman, like me, and a Catholic, like me. Her faith was a big part of the story as she relied on prayer to get her through. So it felt more personal.

The other half of the equation is the politics. I won't say too much about it because I'll just display my ignorance. Despite having read a few memoirs of survivors, I've never heard the other side of the story. The other side is one big "Why?". Why didn't the rest of the world intervene? Why wasn't the news media all over it generating interest and encouraging action? In this age of communication, why wasn't this stopped sooner?

I think this book is just right for the Women Unbound challenge. It depicts a strong woman fighting to survive and succeeding against all the odds.

This book is my "L" book for the 2010 A-Z Reading Challenge. Click on the button to see my progress.


bermudaonion said...

One of my son's friends from high school had to flee from Rwanda because of the genocide and I always think of him and cry when I read books about this. I still read them, though, because I think it's important to stay informed on issues like this. Great review.

Gerbera Daisy Mom said...

This was an absolutely AMAZING BOOK! Im surprise more people haven't read it. I suggested it for book group last year and everyone was, "but isn't it depressing?" Um, YES! Anyway...I was disappointed that I was voted down.

Jenny said...

When I teach my unit on Ethnicity and we discuss ethnic conflicts this one takes center stage, mostly because it is been so well documented and the kids "get" it. I can't believe I haven't read this one, but you can be assured it is on my tbr list now.

The reasons why the world did not intervene are complicated,but the first reason the US did not get involved was because this happened so soon after the failed missions in Mogadishu, Somalia. The Black Hawk Down incident if you have read that book or seen that movie. We were afraid our reception in Rwanda would be just as unwelcome. Also, as a former Belgian colony, the expectation was Belgium would step in and they did not. does this make it right, absolutely not, but it is what it is. I keep hoping the world has learned their lesson, but if you take the time to read up on Darfur you will see history is once again repeating itself.

Hazra said...

Great review, and a really heart-rending story! I haven't read this book, but I watched Hotel Rwanda, and I nearly cried. These books are really important as they help raise consciousness among people.

susan said...

This has been on my tbr for a while. When I think about the genocide, I feel sick, too. I want to cry. It's too hard to believe we, the world sat by and did nothing.

Thanks for the review. I'm going to link to your review for Color Me Brown at Color Online and Little Lov'n Monday at Black-Eyed Susan's.