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Left to Tell: Discovering God Amidst the Rwandan Holocaust

4.41  ·  Rating details ·  39,500 ratings  ·  5,279 reviews
Immaculee Ilibagiza grew up in a country she loved, surrounded by a family she cherished. But in 1994 her idyllic world was ripped apart as Rwanda descended into a bloody genocide. Immaculee’s family was brutally murdered during a killing spree that lasted three months and claimed the lives of nearly a million Rwandans.

Incredibly, Immaculee survived the slaughter. For 91 d
Paperback, 214 pages
Published June 1st 2007 by Hay House (first published February 15th 2006)
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Angelika It depends on the student. Skill-wise, the book is probably appropriate; however, content-wise, I would only recommend this book to mature readers and…moreIt depends on the student. Skill-wise, the book is probably appropriate; however, content-wise, I would only recommend this book to mature readers and not an entire 9th grade class. There are very mature themes that deal with graphic violence (rape, cold-blooded murder, brutality, ethnic discrimination). The book also focuses largely on faith, which can be a very challenging subject for many young readers, let alone adult readers. I use this book in a college-level basic reading/writing course, and many of my students often struggle with these themes (and they're mostly aged 20+). (less)

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Oct 09, 2007 rated it really liked it
Entering this book, I was expecting personal account of the Rwandan holocaust, despite the foreword stating otherwise. In some ways, my expectations were met, in some others, I was surprised. More than just a chronicling of atrocities, Imaculee Ilibagiza's tale is also a testament to inner fortitude, faith, and the power to forgive.

As an agnostic (though my views on spirituality are constantly in flux) I expected that her story would come off as a bit hokey, with too much Jesus-speak for me. Ag
Nov 10, 2007 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: EVERYONE LIVING!
Recommended to Gilbert by: Arlene Amorino
Shelves: spiritual, cursillo
"What was that all about, Immaculée? That was the man who murdered your family. I brought him to you to spit on if you wanted to. But you forgave him! How could you do that? Why did you forgive him?"

I answered him with the truth: "Forgiveness is all I have to offer."

pg. 204


THAT line is the goal....but how the heck did this woman get to that point is why you NEED TO READ THIS BOOK!!

Guilt and anger are forces destroying our cultures, our churches, and ourselves most
Sep 04, 2007 rated it it was amazing
I'm not giving this five stars because I think it is a great piece of literature or that it in any ways matches up with the great books of the world. The five stars are more for how powerful and raw the book felt and how much it physically effected me. To me this is the job of a really great survivor testimony. They don't have to be perfectly written or come with accompanying historical footnotes, etc. There were times as I was reading this book that I had a physical reaction to her story. She t ...more
“I am human, and I think nothing of which is human is alien to me.” -Terence, Roman 2nd century playwright

The first time I read Left to Tell I was so overwhelmed by the horror of the Rwandan genocide I could barely take in all that is commendable in Immaculeé’s writing. This is a book which merits a second, even a third read. No, I did not become hardened or closed off to the immensity of the atrocity, but I was able to step back and notice new and different things which deepened my appreciation
Mar 22, 2009 rated it it was amazing
To give this book fewer than five stars would be a statement that it was somehow incomplete or flawed. How could I find fault with something so heartfelt and genuine? This is a book I will not read again. This is a book I did not ENJOY reading, but it is a book that is worth reading. It is a book that uplifts, even while it subdues.

Would I recommend this book to my friends? Only certain of them. If you like to read books that entertain and put your brain on cruise control, this isn't the book fo
Jan 31, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Very, very powerful. Ilibagiza survived the Rwandan massacre, almost alone amongst her family, by hiding in a small bathroom for three months with seven other women. In this bathroom, she turned to God.

I'm not a big fan of motivational/inspirational literature but this was undeniably moving. I read parts of it many times. The horrors of the holocaust sickened me. It was also terrifying to once again read of the irrational cruelty we same to inflict on each other over and over. I felt obligated t
Mar 28, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Eye-opening. I didn't want to put it down. Most of all, humbling. I am ashamed at what horrendous things we, as human beings do to each other and also, what we ALLOW to happen. It broke my heart to read of all those refugees hoping and praying for help from someone--anyone, and no one stepped up to help. They were left to fend for themselves. I am ashamed at my own whining and complaining about nothing. I have everything! I am so very blessed.

I was inspired by Immaculee's ability to visualize w
Clif Hostetler
Apr 05, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: memoir
It's sadly ironic that some people see proof that there is no God when they consider the evil manifest in the Rwandan holocaust. This author lived through that holocaust, her family were victims, and she says she discovered God amidst it. The style of this book is that of a religious faith journey. Considering the unbelievably horrible things she experienced, I can't suggest a better approach to the subject.

The terrible things that happened are beyond belief! I suppose it makes little sense to
Matt Evans
Jul 16, 2008 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shocking and inspiring. Ms. Ilibagiza tells the story of what happened to her during the Rwandan Holocaust. The narrative's glut of horrific violence made me sick at heart, but Ilibagiza's faith and personal strength pulled me through.

These people are just like you and me: human, educated, desiring of a happy life, and it's stunning to see how quickly so much of this can go down the tubes when mob mentality, based on racial prejudice, sets in. And lest my dear review reader thinks that such thin
Books Ring Mah Bell
Faith can be defined as:
1. confidence or trust in a person or thing: faith in another's ability.
2. belief that is not based on proof
3. belief in God or in the doctrines or teachings of religion
4. belief in anything, as a code of ethics, standards of merit, etc.

How Immaculee Ilibagiza's faith was not shattered and completely destroyed after her ordeal in the Rwandan holocaust is astonishing. Tribal tensions between the Hutus and the Tutsis escalate and the Hutus set about
Mar 10, 2009 rated it really liked it
All those who harassed Eliece about this book, need to buck up and read it. This is a story that everyone should know. This is a story of great faith. Even though it deals with what happened in Rwanda (which we should all understand) it is the story of a young woman who found God in a bathroom and how he rescues her again and again even through some very difficult situations. My favorite quote from the book happens when there are killers outside the place she is hiding, calling her name and she ...more
Aug 19, 2018 rated it liked it
When I first came across this book, I couldn’t make up my mind as to whether I would be able to handle all the pain. I kept picking it up and putting it back on the shelf. After all, it is about the Rwandan genocide and I’m not particularly strong when it comes to these things. I still haven’t been able to watch “Hotel Rwanda” and am not sure if I ever will. The pain and trauma hit a bit too close to home for me. No, I haven’t experienced anything like what this book describes, but I have experi ...more
Jul 11, 2009 rated it it was ok
From the first page, there’s something phony about this book, but it’s hard to pin down. I have no doubt that Immaculee lost her entire family, and I’m very sorry for what happened to her and her people. I believe the basic facts of the story, because I remember news accounts of the time, but some of Immaculee’s details sound fake. Eight women hiding in a bathroom three feet by four feet, (with a toilet taking up some of the room,) and the minister throws in a mattress for them? At one point in ...more
Jul 10, 2008 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: EVERYONE
Recommended to Jessika by: My aunt :)
Shelves: non-fiction, memoir, own
This is definitely the most powerful book that I have ever read. Reading this book brought me to tears so many times, and it truly takes a phenomenal woman to go through what she did and then forgive the perpetrators after all was said and done. I believe that this is a book that everyone needs to read at some point in his life. Not only will reading this book make you realize how much you may take for granted in your life, but it also shows you that if she can find forgiveness through God, so c ...more
Jun 21, 2018 rated it really liked it
4+ stars

This is a personal account of a survivor of the Rwandan genocide in the 1990s, not so much a history of the entire genocide. It’s deeply personal and uplifting despite all the atrocities. It’s very much a companion to The Hiding Place.

Immaculee grew up in a wonderful family and excelled in STEM subjects in school despite encountering extreme racism. She went home from college for Easter when the genocide started in earnest. She survived by hiding in a pastor’s house in a tiny bathroom fo
Jun 30, 2007 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: life-changing
This book broke my heart over and over all the while strengthening my spirit. I learned that no matter what your situation you can put your trust in God's hands. Often times I feel like my own needs are trivial in comparison to what others may be dealing with and that I don't have a right to burden Heavenly Father with my miniscule problems and questions. But we all need direction, no matter what your circumstance and we all need support.
This book was wonderful. I marveled at her amazing faith
Oct 06, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: everyone!
Everyone should read this. It is not a pleasant book to read, but it is an important one. After surviving the most ghastly genocide of our generation, Immaculee says, "I may have lost everything, but I kept my faith, and it made me strong. It also comforted me and let me know that life still had purpose." As hard as it is to read, it is profoundly inspiring.

Why then does mankind keep repeating these atrocities?
I haven't read much about the Rwandan genocide because it still feels so close. It hurts me too deeply to realize that this happened in my conscious lifetime. But a close friend of mine said she kept thinking I should read this book and then lent it to me.

Well, I read it. And here is my review. I'll address it in two parts: The Story and The Writing.

The Story: It is terrifying to see an entire country collapse into rampant mob-murder. I can't really take it in entirely. It's too much to think th
Dec 13, 2008 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to LaSchelle by: Teri's pick for January 2009
Amazing survival story! Through her ordeal, she was isolated with 7 other women for 3 months in a tiny bathroom. She turned to prayer and meditation as she had no idea how long this ordeal would last. Through this horror, she became closer to God. She listened to inspiration from God and it saved her life and the lives of those with her.

It was a great reminder that money and power can influence people to do evil. Slowly, people can be influenced to believe things that are not true or act inhuma
3.5 stars

Immaculée Ilibagiza grew up in a happy, loving home, and had no idea there was rivalry between the Hutu and the Tutsi until a teacher did a special role call for each group. This story starts with her struggle to get to university, and then how that was torn away once the civil war and the enormous genocide in this small country began. She spent three months hidden in a 3 foot by 4 foot bathroom along with 5-7 other women.

Although I didn't think I would give this book this many stars at
Reading this book is a pretty sobering experience. Author Immaculée Ilibagiza is a survivor of the 1994 Rwandan Holocaust, during which approximately 1,000,000 people were killed over the span of 100 days. This book is to the Rwandan Holocaust what The Diary of a Young Girl is to the Jewish Holocaust. Like Anne Frank, Ilibagiza is not writing about the history, politics, or culture of her country, or of the genocide, but rather how it affected her (although Ilibagiza's recount is obviously more ...more
Hafsah M
Apr 28, 2017 rated it really liked it
Imagine being in a closet sized bathroom with 7 strangers for 91 days. Most of us cannot even imagine this. Immaculee Ilibagiza lived this horror during the Rwandan Genocide in 1994. I was very surprised upon reading this novel. This fascinating story was not just about the Rwandan government and about the genocide, but it is also about Immaculee’s journey with god. Immaculee is brought up in a very religious household and being a minority never crossed her mind. In Rwanda there are two tribes, ...more
Feb 28, 2009 rated it it was amazing
I've had this book sitting on my nightstand for several weeks, after checking it out from the library thanks to many recommendations from friends and acquaintances. I'm so glad I finally made the time to read it. It really is a page turner and doesn't take long to get through it. Once you begin you can't put it down, in part because you want the suffering to end.

Left to Tell is the true and horribly detailed account of a tremendous evil that left over one million dead--most of them chopped to de
Sep 15, 2008 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: Everyone
I have to be honest, I don't really want to read this book because it hurts my heart too much. I heard Immaculee speak at a banquet. I was captivated by her story (while I sobbed), and found myself marveling at how vastly different our life can be, even in our modern world. I recommend this book to everyone (even though I have not read it), because it is an unbeleiveable story. From what I have been told it is mildly graphic and horrific as she describes the massacre of her own family and the at ...more
Amy J
Nov 26, 2008 rated it it was amazing
This book is much like "The Hiding Place" in its focus on forgiveness and God's love and support through such great trials. It is very difficult to get through, with details of the violence and horror that were a part of this genocide. Very disturbing. Most distressing to me though, was how much about this event I didn't know. It's hard to imagine that we live in a world where things like this happen, and we don't tune in or send help. I think of W. H. Auden's poem, "Musee des Beaux Arts," and I ...more
Oct 25, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2016-faves
For all the books I have read in my lifetime, none have touched me and inspired me and challenged my faith as this one. The reality and really words Ilibagiza uses to describe the horror that affected an entire country startled me. I cried through every chapter. I thought of God on every page.

I'll never be the same after reading this book. Anyone who reads my review, read this book. Read it! Read it with a compassionate and open heart and your world will be changed.
Ron Wroblewski
May 01, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: biography, religion
Marvelous personal story of her being saved from a massacre. I did meet her at a conference where Wayne Dyer was sponsoring her as a speaker.
Kimberly K
Lost, stuck and nowhere to run. This is what was happening to the Tutsi's in the country of Rwanda. Everywhere they looked there was the Hutu killers swiping at them with machetes and rifles. Immaculee Ilibagiza takes us through her 91 day journey of being hunted because of what she was; a Tutsi. Through her journey she discovered God, who got her through the 91 days of being trapped in a tiny bathroom with 6 other women.
Left to Tell would be a 4 out of 5 stars. It shows what she is feeling and
Sep 26, 2011 rated it really liked it
Incredible account of how this woman was sustained (and blessed) through prayer during the atrocities of ethnic cleansing and civil war while hiding in a crowded small bathroom with very little to eat.

Here is a thought from Elder Holland (fireside address, "Lessons from Liberty Jail", September 2008) that I thought went along well with the overall message of the book...

"...when you have to, you can have sacred, revelatory, profoundly instructive experience with the Lord in any situation you are
Jan 22, 2009 rated it liked it
Plain an simple - She told the story the only way she could. For a reader like me, I was already vested in the political atrocities of Africa and I wanted the book to explore this further. How did Rowanda get into this situation? Why does colonialism break people down into various classes by education, skin tone, etc..?

Also, the blatant commercialization of the story. I enjoy a little Wayne Dyer from time to time, but holy crapshoot batman, they hijacked this story. Her faith had to be strong an
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Play Book Tag: Left to Tell: Discovering God Amidst the Rwandan Holocast by Immaculée Ilibagiza with Steve Erwin 4 stars 3 16 Mar 09, 2018 09:59AM  
Left To Tell 1 8 Jan 18, 2018 05:37PM  
Nonfiction Naviga...: Left to Tell 1 6 Dec 06, 2015 04:59PM  
Nonfiction Naviga...: "Left to Tell" earns 5 stars 1 4 Dec 02, 2015 08:27PM  
Beliefs 6 84 Aug 02, 2015 02:57PM  

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Today Immaculée is regarded as one of world's leading speakers on peace, faith, and forgiveness. She has shared her universal message with world dignitaries, school children, multinational corporations, churches, and at many conferences. Immaculée works hard to spread her message and to raise money for her Left to Tell Charitable Fund which directly benefits the children orphaned by the genocide.


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“The love of a single heart can make a world of difference.” 64 likes
“I knew that my heart and mind would always be tempted to feel anger--to find blame and hate. But I resolved that when the negative feelings came upon me, I wouldn't wait for them to grow or fester. I would always turn immediately to the Source of all true power: I would turn to God and let His love and forgiveness protect and save me.” 48 likes
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