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Running the Rift Hardcover – Bargain Price, January 3, 2012
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While You Were Mine
Everything she loved could so easily be lost. Learn More
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Kansas City Star Top 100 Books of 2012
Seattle Times’ 25 Best Books of 2012 list
BookBrowse’s Favorite Books for 2012
"In Naomi Benaron's Running the Rift, a novel full of unspeakable strife but also joy, humor, and love, "hope always [chases] close on the heels of despair," thanks to a writer who knows when to keep a steady pace and when to explode into an all-out sprint." —O, The Oprah Magazine
"Running the Rift encourages us to see the world as a whole, despite the simmering divisions that constantly threaten to erupt. The genocide scars Jean Patrick and scuttles his personal Olympic dream. But other seemingly impossible dreams are realized in this accomplished, comprehending and generous first novel." —Kansas City Star
“Running the Rift does not spare readers the horrors of the violence in Rwanda, but never loses sight of the beauty—the love and, yes, the hope—that persists even amid such a desperate situation." —The Wichita Eagle
“This well written and well researched novel is an impressive debut.”—The Seattle Times
"An auspicious debut . . . Having worked extensively with genocide survivor groups in Rwanda, Benaron clearly acquired a very lucid sense of her characters' lives and of the horrors they endured. Her story tells, with compelling clarity, of Rwandan Tutsi youth, Jean Patrick Nkuba--who dreams of becoming Rwanda's first Olympic medalist. It's a dream he must postpone for more than a decade as the internecine savagery, Hutu vs. Tutsi, slaughters millions and derails the lives of countless others. While it would be counterintuitive to pronounce this a winning, feel-good story, there is something to be said for hope restored. And Naomi Benaron's characters say it well."—The Daily Beast
"This debut novel set against the backdrop of Rwanda's ethnic conflict is a powerful coming-of-age story that highlights the best and worst of human nature."—Christian Science Monitor
"Benaron's focus on this one young man is part of the book's brilliance . . . Benaron writes beautifully about the pain and exhilaration of being an Olympic-level runner (she's a triathlete) . . . It's unbearable, Benaron's genius is that we read on despite it." —BookPage
"This debut novel won the Bellwether Prize, created and funded by author Barbara Kingsolver to promote fiction that addresses issues of social justice. A more fitting choice would be hard to find." —Shelf Awareness
“In a finely crafted story of dreams, illusions, hard reality, and reaching the other side of fear, Benaron has bestowed upon the world a story that illuminates events on a national scale by showing their effects at the personal level.”—ForeWord Reviews
"Benaron accomplishes the improbable feat of wringing genuine loveliness from unspeakable horror . . . It is a testament to Benaron's skill that a novel about genocide . . . conveys so profoundly the joys of family, friendship, and community." —Publishers Weekly, starred review
“Awarded the prestigious Bellwether Prize for its treatment of compelling social issues, Benaron’s first novel is a gripping, frequently distressing portrait of destruction and ultimate redemption... Benaron sheds a crystalline beacon on an alarming episode in global history, and her charismatic protagonist leaves an indelible impression.”—Booklist
"First novelist Benaron, who has actively worked with refugee groups, won the 2010 Bellwether Prize for Socially Engaged Fiction for this unflinching and beautifully crafted account of a people and their survival. In addition, she compellingly details the growth and rigorous training of a young athlete. . . Highly recommended; readers who loved Khaled Hosseini's The Kite Runner will appreciate."—Library Journal, starred review
"The politics will be familiar to those who have followed Africa’s crises (or seen Hotel Rwanda), but where Benaron shines is in her tender descriptions of Rwandan’s natural beauty and in her creation of Jean Patrick, a hero whose noble innocence and genuine human warmth are impossible not to love." —Kirkus Reviews, starred review
“Rich characterization and insights about Rwandan culture make this book a pleasure to read, and Jean Patrick impossible not to root for . . . Running the Rift is a profound display of imagination and empathy. Benaron writes like Jean Patrick runs, with the heart of a lion.”
—The Dallas Morning News
“[Benaron] writes with an earnest clarity, bringing the boy to manhood and imparting to readers a culturally rich and unflinching story of resilience and resistance.”
—Chicago Tribune, editor’s choice
“A novel full of unspeakable strife but also joy, humor, and love.”
—O: The Oprah Magazine
“A powerful coming-of-age story that highlights the best and the worst of human nature.”
—The Christian Science Monitor
“[An] unflinching and beautifully crafted account of a people and their survival. In addition, she compellingly details the growth and rigorous training of a young athlete . . . Highly recommended; readers who loved Khaled Hosseini’s The Kite Runner will appreciate.”
—Library Journal, starred review
Top Customer Reviews
When the Belgians occupied Rwanda, they classified the people who spoke one language and shared one culture into two separate groups - the Hutus and the Tutsis. They did this by observing the physical characteristics of the people. The Tutsis tended to be thinner and lankier with smaller noses. The Hutus tended to be more muscular and had a stronger, stockier appearance. After these two groups were named, the balance of power shifted repeatedly between them. Sometimes the Tutsis held power and at other times the Hutus did.
At the time that this novel opens, the Hutus are gaining power and want to eradicate the Tutsis who they call `cockroaches' or `dog eaters'. The bloodshed is horrific and no one in this country is spared the death of loved ones or family. President Habyarimana has just seized power and states that he will make the country whole again. However, his words are empty. He is surrounded by thugs who support the genocide. He rules with empty promises. The United Nations have some troops in Rwanda but they are ineffective. The western countries seem not to care what is happening here and do not intervene to put a stop to the bloodshed.
The main protagonist in this novel is a young man named Jean Patrick, a focused and determined student and runner. Despite being a Tutsi, he has the top grades in his class and is accepted into a private boarding school. Jean Patrick is such a good runner that he hopes to make the Olympic team. It looks promising for him.Read more ›
The story takes place between 1984 and 1998. Over the years the tension gradually builds between the two groups as the Tutsi people become increasingly harrassed and the media inflames racial divisions. Jean-Patrick's brother joins the RPF, a Tutsi rebel group, but Jean-Patrick heads to university and trains to be an Olympic runner. He befriends an American geology professor and falls in love with a Hutu girl. Sporadically violence against Tutsis erupts, but Jean-Patrick chooses to believe that his high profile running talent (and his well connected coach) will protect him from persecution. Meanwhile we - the reader - have a sense of dread from the outset that grows ever stronger.
This book pulled me in immediately. The sense of place is palpable. You can almost feel, smell and taste Rwanda as you read it. While it is fiction, it feels so real that I found it hard to believe that this wasn't a true story and that Benaron isn't Rwandan (she's not). It takes you inside Jean-Patrick's head and you can understand why he ignores so many warning signs and warnings from friends about the tensions that are building. It's so much easier to stick to the beliefs that you were raised with, even when the evidence against them is so overwhelming. When the genocide comes, some Hutus turn on their friends and lovers, but others will risk and even sacrifice their own lives to save their countrymen.Read more ›
I was so taken with the main character, Jean Patrick, and the juxtaposition with the character Jonathan, the American professor, who befriends him. This was a book I couldn't put down and I'm so grateful for the lesson it taught about humanity, love and hate, and specifically about the beauty and the horror of Rwanda. I honestly could not put this book down.
This book makes me want to read everything else Ms. Benaron writes from now on, because she has a gift for storytelling and a passion for her subject that makes everything she writes come to life. I would recommend this novel to anybody who appreciates beautiful writing. And you just might learn a ton about Rwanda too.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
I have spent countless hours reading about Rwanda’s genocide. However, one of the most impactful books I have ever read about the subject is “Running the Rift” by Naomi Benadron. Read morePublished 20 days ago by Nicole M. Means
An amazing story of terror and hardship amongst love and strength. Beautifully written and hard to put down. Loved it!Published 1 month ago by rebecca
Opened a troubling window into the tragic world of Rwanda. A major paradigm shift in my view of the world I live in; yet a tribute to the enduring, tenacious power of hope.Published 2 months ago by todd
This is a coming of age novel about a young Olympic class runner of the wrong "race" during Rwandan genocide. Read morePublished 5 months ago by Okemos56
I could scarcely put it down. I was so intrigued, I read all the author's research & journey to the writing of this at the end of the book.Published 8 months ago by lorie
Naomi Benaron, author of Running the Rift, takes the material of a beautiful country and a beautiful people to gradually lead the reader on a journey that encompasses the greatness... Read morePublished 8 months ago by Paul Duffau
Naomi Benaron's _Running the Rift_ is an excellent, but at times, difficult read: difficult in content not in execution. Read morePublished 13 months ago by Archetype
This book was an amazing read. It follows the life of Rwandan Tutsi Jean Patrick, from his youth to manhood. Read morePublished 13 months ago by SunshineRose
Book needed to have the key 25 to fifty words translated. Too disruptive otherwise. Beautiful story of family life and true love. Read morePublished 14 months ago by Elaine Hagley