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This Voice in My Heart: A Runner's Memoir of Genocide, Faith, and Forgiveness

4.06  ·  Rating Details ·  422 Ratings  ·  87 Reviews
Gilbert Tuhabonye is a survivor. More than ten years ago, he lay buried under a pile of burning bodies. The centuries–old battle between Hutu and Tutsi tribes had come to Gilbert's school. Fueled by hatred, the Hutus forced more than a hundred Tutsi children and teachers into a small room and used machetes to beat most of them to death. The unfortunate ones who survived th ...more
Paperback, 272 pages
Published May 22nd 2007 by Amistad (first published January 1st 2006)
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Community Reviews

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Coriander
Dec 07, 2010 Coriander rated it it was amazing
Gilbert has done a beautiful job of detailing a very painful memory, the murder and betrayal of classmates. At first I did not care for the way he jumps from the incident that changed his life to the memories of his home in Burundi. The more I read the more I came to realize that his childhood had as much to do with shaping his life as this traumatic event and deserved to be told.

He is an amazing person who shows conviction and courage in everything he does. His story is compelling and will kee
...more
Liralen
I'm not one much for God saved me narratives -- too often, other aspects of the story are brushed over. I'm a sucker for a good running memoir, though, and I was thrilled to find a book by a Burundian author.

Going into this book requires a bit of Burundi's history. It's a poor country -- one of the five poorest countries in the world if you consider purchasing parity power -- and that poverty has been exacerbated by years of war. Although there's peace there now, that peace is recent, and both c
...more
Telvina
May 05, 2016 Telvina rated it really liked it
This book made me feel that u can become many obstacles. In the book there is many flashbacks about his burns. At first the story starts out slow but at the middle it gets so interesting I love how he explains his life and how he loves running and when he was getting better from the injures didn't bring him down he keep trying to recover himself from those injures. He then goes threw a lot but he keeps on going even when his father passed away. A lot of stuff happened in the hospital that well s ...more
Diana Gonzalez
May 05, 2016 Diana Gonzalez rated it it was amazing
Wow, this book was phenomenal!This Voice in My Heart is by far the best memoir I have ever read. I usually do not like reading memoirs but this, bygolly, the best. At the beginning of the memoir it started off really slow and was taking too long to get to the point. As I continued to read it, I began to get attached to it, it was difficult to put it down! Gilbert, the author, goes through many obstacles in his life but learns to overcome them. He is definitely a leader and I am glad he accomplis ...more
Lesly
May 05, 2016 Lesly rated it it was amazing
This voice in my Heart is a memoir of Gilbert a runner that had to overcome many obstacles to archive his goals. This is one of the best memoirs I have ever read and honestly I do not like memoirs or nonfiction books. The story of Gilbert for me is a very inspirational story of success and faith. People should never give up to archive their goals and dreams. At the beginning the book start so slow but as you get to the middle start to go fast and you can put the book down. I highly recommend to ...more
Ladena.Quillen
May 10, 2016 Ladena.Quillen rated it really liked it
Good book! I love how the author tells his life story. I also like how there were pages in italic fonts, that tell what happens to Gilbert in the past, during his childhood. His life was inspiring to me because, he went through a struggle with genocide, the fire where he was the only one to survive and by having faith in God he achieved his life goals. This is an inspiring book to me because, i am a teenager and i play sports and his ambition and drive make me want to do the same and be better i ...more
Lizbeth Valdez
May 05, 2016 Lizbeth Valdez rated it liked it
This Voice in My Heart: A Runner's Memoir of Genocide, was a very inspirational book. I like how Gilbert was born into a lot of difficult situations but he didn't let those obstacles stop him in reaching his dreams. The fact that he came from a poor resources and ended up competing with some of the greatest. This motivates me to do better in everything I do, that's why I think it's a very inspirational book.
Cindy Newton
May 25, 2013 Cindy Newton rated it really liked it
Shelves: owned-books
It was disturbing to read about the atrocities this boy had to endure. It was unsettling that it was at the hands of the very people who were supposed to protect him. The equivalent would be if you were being terrorized and threatened by people who had broken into your home, only to find that when the police showed up, they joined in with the housebreakers! I cannot imagine such a level of hate. I can't imagine any conditions under which I could enjoy watching people--even people I hated--die in ...more
Marlawanda Briley
I loved this book. Hearing how much joy Gilbert and his family found in eachother, in their hard work and what they produced, made me realize how much I take what I have for granted. It made me appreciate all of what I have grown up and also helped me to realized that you don't miss what you don't have. Here was a boy who was thrilled that he could run from one hill to another, sing out and be heard by someone on the next hill over. I can't imagine any child I know who would be happy to run arou ...more
Alexis
Jun 06, 2008 Alexis rated it liked it
The first hand account from Gilbert is priceless though incredibly painful to read.

He gives a perspective of hope and love of his country that is often forgotten when we read about or think about refugees out of Africa.

Gilbert alternates between fond memories of Burundi to the flames that engulfed his school and classmates.

Tears are to be expected with his story.

Once again this African author comes through with hope on the other side.

Definitely worth reading. Be prepared that his language ma
...more
Daja
May 05, 2016 Daja rated it it was amazing
I loved this memoir! Gilbert is a true underdog. He was destined for failure but still kept his head up no matter what came between him and his goal. He is so strong, inside and out, heart and in soul. I truly learned a great deal from this memoir.
Katie
Aug 23, 2011 Katie rated it did not like it
The parts about him the day of the genocide were really good and kept me interested but as for everything else, it was boring and usless info just went on and on. I would never recament it. I had to read it for a summer project and when usually I fly through the books that even most people cant even look at I was pulling my own teeth in order to get through it. Also some parts were confusing. For example he would write something like "I was to Sam and then Martha came over so I said goodbye to f ...more
Karina
May 05, 2016 Karina rated it liked it
This book had some interesting parts. The words and the names were difficult to read and understand the meaning. I feel like many people connect to Gilbert and how he felt throughout the book.
Michael
May 05, 2016 Michael rated it liked it
I believe this book is great. I feel like some parts of it connect to me. The way he has to compete and his life is a struggle. I can connect to that.
Daisy
Mar 19, 2014 Daisy rated it really liked it
Shelves: book-club
Gilbert's personal sotry was horrific yet completely fascinating. I was continuously trying to put myself in his shoes and know that he is a special man to have survived such genocide and savagery. I always enjoy the opportunity to read books about other cultures and periods as it gives me such perspective that we are blessed to live in this country with the opportunities that it provides us. I am very much looking forward to hearing him speak at our Book Club. It will be very interesting!
Sally Tarbox
Mar 27, 2015 Sally Tarbox rated it really liked it
Shelves: autobiography
"So many of my teammates and my schoolmates were now dead or had turned against me.", March 27, 2015

This review is from: The Running Man (Hardcover)
A compelling autobiography of the Burundian runner, where the narrative follows two strands: the main chapters follow his childhood, family, religion and education - but preceding each are a few pages taking us further into an account of That Day in 1993, when the Hutus rose up with machetes and turned on the Tutsis (to which tribe the author belong
...more
Jessica  Sinn (Chick Lit Cafe)
I’ve always known the Reader’s Digest synapsis of his incredible story —that he was the lone survivor of a gruesome genocide attack—but reading about it in detail left me awestruck. Despite the unimaginable atrocities Gilbert endured, he managed to find a sense of peace and forgiveness. His palpable joyful spirit seeps into us all as we’re running our drills to the sound of him shouting “woo hoo hoo” or singing a hilariously warped rendition of Pharrell’s “Happy” song.

Read the full review on my
...more
Kristen
Dec 05, 2014 Kristen rated it really liked it
Shelves: biography, memoir, 2014
How does one exactly review a book about hope, faith, and forgiveness triumphing over pure evil?

Gilbert Tuhabonye survived a planned attack on his school. The perpetraitors used machetes, clubs, gasoline, fire, and chemicals as they killed many Tutsis youth and adults that day on the school grounds. Men that Gilbert had assumed were friends and teachers turned on him, singled him out because of his ability to run, and attempted to kill him. While they failed at taking his life, they certainly s
...more
Harry Rutherford
I bought The Running Man as my book from Burundi for the Read The World challenge. I can’t say I was particularly looking forward to reading it, though, because the blurb on the cover — How the voice in my heart helped me survive genocide and realise my Olympic dream> — just sounds a bit TV movie of the week. Clearly there’s an interesting story there, but it doesn’t inspire confidence that it will be a well-told story.

I’ve read enough boring sporting autobiographies that I approach the genre
...more
Melanie
Jul 08, 2012 Melanie rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Well I'm a pretty slow reader, but I read this book in four days. That's ten times faster than the time it took to read The Hunger Games. If that doesn't tell you anything about how good this book is, I'll say a little more.
Although there are horrific and extremely tragic, gruesome events detailed in Tuhabonye's story, interwoven throughout are also pictures of his childhood and early adolescence. The contrast between these two story lines is like the contrast of heaven and hell – the terrible
...more
Ginny
Sep 06, 2008 Ginny rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: Anyone, but especially for contrast with the American civil rights narratives that abound today.
Recommended to Ginny by: Barnes and Noble
Even though the writing style is, at best, simplistic; the story is most powerful and gripping. Tuhabonye (shortened from "Tuhabonyemana" which means "Child of God") was the sole survivor of an "ethnic cleansing" at the Lycee Kibimba in Kibimba, Burundi that was exacted on the Tutsi students and staff by a band of Hutus led by the Headmaster himself. As the reigning national champion in two mid-range track events, Tuhabonye was a prime target for Hutu hatred.

Tuhabonye tells of his idyllic childh
...more
Lana
Jan 22, 2010 Lana rated it it was amazing
Gilbert Tuhabonye, a Tutsi and a gifted runner, gives a first-hand account on the violence in his country of Burundi that preceded the better-known story told in "Hotel Rwanda." He was the sole survivor of an attack on his school led not by unknown Hutus, but those he had considered his friends and associates the day before--his principal, teachers, classmates, and even teammates. He tells of the "voice in his heart" who gave comfort and guidance to him through the ordeal and through the healin ...more
Becky
Jun 13, 2008 Becky rated it really liked it
This book tells the story of someone who survived the genocide in Burundi. It was interesting to read, since i work with so many people from Burundi right now. It breaks my heart to hear what people have to go through and to hear the cruelty of which people are capable. I am once again amazed how much awfulness people can survive and still come out as a functioning human being.

The author of this book is a Tutsi, and I would like to learn more about what happened in Burundi from the perspective
...more
Sarah
Aug 15, 2015 Sarah rated it really liked it
About half way through the book I felt Gilbert to be a little arrogant. As I continued to read, of all that he endured, it seemed as if his tone changed to match the humility he found a long the way. In many respects, it was as if the young, cocky Gilbert wrote the first part, and the mature, wisened Gilbert wrote the second. While I know this is not the case, the timbre was such that you could see the author's growth.

That being said, hia talent, resilience, and faith are remarkable and unmistak
...more
Samantha
Oct 11, 2009 Samantha rated it really liked it
A really incredible book. Very difficult to read at points, but so is what Gilbert survived. It is definitely not a pick-me-up book, but the writing about running as a joy and his happy memories of childhood are beautiful. This book was required for my Global Issues class and so it was definitely not one I would have picked up on my own (as I don't like those stories) but you are left with a sense of peace, not terror. He has survived so much and yet still does not hate. I saw a clip of him in c ...more
Bobbi O'neal
Aug 23, 2014 Bobbi O'neal rated it really liked it
I choose this book because our family sponsors a child though World Vision that lives in the country of Burundi. I wanted to learn more about this African country and home of our sponsored child. This book did not disappoint. I learned so much about the different groups of people who call Burundi home and the political uprising that has occurred over the years. This autobiography is also an amazing testimony to the power of God and faith.
Celeste
Sep 17, 2008 Celeste rated it liked it
Recommended to Celeste by: Kevin
Shelves: bellicose
I got this book from a friend who in Austin who is coached by the author. I probably would never have heard of it otherwise, but I found it interesting because I didn't really know anything about Burundi (the book is about his childhood before as well as the genocide) or competitive running, and also it is a compelling story. I'm normally not a fan of memoirs or autobiographies because I tend to find the authors annoying or feel like they are misrepresenting things to make themselves look good, ...more
Val
Apr 03, 2013 Val rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Gilbert Tuhabonye survived a genocidal attack when he was a schoolboy in Burundi. He was already a talented runner at that time, with dreams of representing his country. This is not a standard sporting biography, although he is a very good athlete, who eventually ran in international competition and went on to become a coach in the USA.
He had some assistance in writing this memoir, but it is his story and it is a very powerful one. His voice shines through without intervention. If you are not a
...more
ilham.mukhtar
Mar 04, 2015 ilham.mukhtar rated it really liked it
Quite a disturbing book, detailing the tragedy happened to Gilbert's life while in his senior school years. I'm interested with his ferociousness to pursue his goals and how at such an early age he had the conviction to focus on his education and running as a way to get ahead. Highly recommended!
Seun Omo
May 15, 2014 Seun Omo rated it it was amazing
Heart Wrenching!!! A powerful story of forgiveness and kindness in the midst of great trials. I cried when I read this book, and it reminds me "that the heart of man is wicked."

Get some tissue, this book will break your heart and move you to tears.
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