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Over a Thousand Hills I Walk With You Hardcover – February 16, 2006
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From School Library Journal
Starred Review. Grade 9 Up–The patient encouragement of the author to help her adopted daughter, Jeanne d'Arc Umubyeyi, come to terms with her memories provides the frame for this account of genocide in Rwanda in 1994. When Jeanne was eight, Hutu neighbors massacred her family and destroyed her home; she witnessed the murder of her mother and brother, as well as other Tutsis, strangers and family friends. Beautifully crafted and smoothly translated, this searing novel is all the more remarkable for the sense of place it conveys through vividly remembered details of an African world where the mundane experiences of daily life were cataclysmically interrupted by a few months of unimaginable violence. Jeanne's courage, will to live, and understandable anger come through clearly, leading readers to wonder how a person or a country can ever recover from such events. The young woman's adoptive mother's childhood memories, mentioned in one of the chapter introductions, make explicit the connection between Rwanda and Germany. The title, taken from a story Jeanne's grandmother told, also reminds readers of the importance of human connections and continued trust. Painful to read, but unforgettable, this book will provoke thought and discussion.–Kathleen Isaacs, Towson University, MD
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
*Starred Review* Gr. 7-10. Eight-year-old Jeanne was the only one of her family to survive the 1994 Rwanda genocide. Then a German family adopted her, and her adoptive mother now tells Jeanne's story in a compelling fictionalized biography that stays true to the traumatized child's bewildered viewpoint. Jeanne is witness to unspeakable horror, but the tragedy isn't exploited in her narrative. Nor is Jeanne sentimental about the world she loses: she feels jealous of her sister and distant from her father, and she takes her comfortable Tutsi Catholic home in Kibungo for granted. Readers unfamiliar with the history may be somewhat bewildered. Who are the Tutsis? Who are the Hutus? Why were almost a million people massacred? But that confusion is part of the story. An appended time line fills in some of the facts, but of course, there's no explanation. Woven into the child's story are brief, contemporary commentaries, set in italics, by the Jeanne's German mother, who speaks to her child about loss, fury, survivor guilt, and healing. Occasionally, the narrative is too detailed, especially about daily life before the massacre, but Crawford's translation from the German is always clear and eloquent. An elemental account of perpetrators, victims, and bystanders ("And the world looked on. Or looked away"), this book is an important addition to the Holocaust curriculum. Hazel Rochman
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved
Top customer reviews
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I have a criticism about the quality of the writing but cannot say whether the problem is in the translation. Perhaps the author, Hanna Jansen, is not a natural writer but even so the translator might have done a better job and used fewer word repetitions. I found her American voice palled at times too. I liked the chapter intros each of which were short scenes in Jeanne's adoptive home in Germany. This showed how healing was taking place, although I found the end where Hanna Jansen, the author and adoptive German mother, claimed to completely share and understand what Jeanne had been through. Sorry but no - you cannot possibly!
Nevertheless it is a powerful story which deserves wide readership.
The book is written by the adoptive mother of Jeanne to tell the story that is often called the modern day Holocaust. As with the original Holocaust, many children were left to fight for themselves and try and find a new way to survive. Jeanne's family is killed and she is left to fend for herself, and the book is about how she achieves that.
When you read this book you aren't on the basic level of thinking. You are much beyond that. The imagery in this book is not good, because in no way do you want this to happen to anyone, but at the same time it's very real. I felt as if I were standing the fields and forests and homes of these people and was surrounded by people fighting for their lives.
Reviewed by: Taylor Rector
The story is beautifully told, Jansen has done a great job here. Her book is definitely worth reading.
First of all, at the start of every chapter, the foster mother/author, Hanna Jansen writes a page or two. Usually some sort of anecdote, or a story of some sort. Which is all fine and good, but lady, I didn't buy the book to read what you think. Were you in Rwanda running for your life? Didn't think so. So shush and let the girl tell her story. It frustrated me.
My second complaint is the overall language used in the book. There's no way that those words came out of a teenagers mouth. Sorry, but it feels to me like Jansen edited and embellished where she saw fit. Maybe something got lost in the translation and its not Jansen's fault at all, I don't know. Regardless, it irriated me.
The book has so much potential. I was so excited to read it when I picked it up, but seriously folks, it was a disappointing one.