Brandi Rae's Reviews > Listening for Lions

Listening for Lions by Gloria Whelan
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's review
Aug 27, 2008

liked it
bookshelves: juvenile-fiction, historical
Read in August, 2008

Rachel loves her life in Africa, where her father runs a missionary hospital and her mother runs a local school. Unlike other British citizens in East Africa, particularly Mr. and Mrs. Pritchard and their daughter Valerie, her family lives simply with the Kikuyu and the Masai tribes, respecting their traditions, holding church services and training them to work in the hospital.

Her peaceful life is shattered when both her parents, as well as Valerie Pritchard, die from an outbreak of influenza, forcing her to move in with the Pritchards. Rachel assumes that the mission will send for her, and she will be sent to an orphanage in England. The Pritchards have other ideas though. Noticing Rachel and Valerie’s similarity in age and hair color, they decide that Rachel shall pose as Valerie and return to England. Once there, she is to recapture the good graces (and money) of Valerie’s ailing grandfather, allowing the Pritchard’s to return from Africa to England.

Mrs. Pritchard pulled her chair closer to me and began to speak in what she must have thought was a kindly tone, but which sounded false in my ears. “Rachel, my dear, you have it in your power to do a great kindness to an elderly gentleman. More than a great kindness. It would not be an exaggeration to say you could save an old man’s life.”

“I don’t know,” I said. “I think it would be wrong.”

“Nonsense,” Mrs. Pritchard said. “It is your Christian duty. If you could save the poor man and you chose not to, it would be as bad as murder.”

Rachel knows that it would be wrong to deceive the elderly man, but she seeing no other option, agrees to go to England. Will she be discovered as an imposter right away? Or will she trick grandfather and give the Pritchards exactly what they want?

From the exotic locale of Africa, to the harsh winters of England, Listening for Lions follows a young girl’s journey into adulthood as she struggles to regain control of her life and do what she knows is right.

Despite being a little slow, and having a girl as the main character, this was a book that even the fifth grade boys in my book club really enjoyed.
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