Bdalton's Reviews > Running the Rift

Running the Rift by Naomi Benaron
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Apr 13, 2012

really liked it
bookshelves: adult-fiction
Read from April 13 to 28, 2012

This is a novel about a young man, Jean Patrick, who is a teenager and young college student in the years leading up to the Rwandan genocide. In Rwanda the tribal classification imposed on the region by the Belgiums has divided the region into two main groups, the Tsutsi's and the Hutu's. Jean Patrick is a Tsutsi, the group that has fallen out of political power, and because of this, Tsutsi's face discrimination and harassment.

Jean Patrick manages to go to secondary school and college in part because he is a gifted runner. His coach, a Hutu nationalist, admires his ability and determination, and despite his prejudice, takes Jean Patrick under his wing and tries to protect him. Jean Patrick's girl friend is Hutu and his best friend, too. While Jean Patrick tries to navigate the Hutu world, his brother Roger embraces the Tsutsi cause and becomes a rebel.

While Jean Patrick's story is compelling, I thought the writing was a bit stilted in some places, and therefore I could not give it five stars.

This is a great book to recommend to high school students who may not be familar with the Rwandan genocide and to adults who may have forgotten. The power comes from the idea that this could happen any time and any place. What can the world do to prevent such an event from ever occurring again? It also makes clear that this type of civil war is a greater tragedy then facing an outside invader since neighbor turned against neighbor and people went along to spare their own lives. Survivors have a sense of relief and guilt. This Bellwether winning book is also a good choice for book clubs that like more serious reads.


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