cover image Her Own Two Feet: A Rwandan Girl’s Brave Fight to Walk

Her Own Two Feet: A Rwandan Girl’s Brave Fight to Walk

Meredith Davis and Rebeka Uwitonze. Scholastic Focus, $17.99 (208p) ISBN 978-1-338-35637-3

Born in the Rwandan countryside with arthrogryposis, a disease resulting in curled hands and twisted feet, Rebeka Uwitonze taught herself to walk on the tops of her feet at age seven. Following multiple unsuccessful attempts to straighten her feet, an American sponsoring her school education arranges for U.S. doctors to evaluate then-nine-year-old Uwitonze for another possible treatment, this time surgical. If she is found to be a candidate for the surgery, Uwitonze would have to stay in the States with a host family for as long as a year. With her family’s blessing (“Chance comes once,” her father says, a phrase repeated throughout the book), Uwitonze flies, alongside translator Anna, to Austin, Tex. With the support of her host family—coauthor Davis and her family—Uwitonze undergoes numerous medical procedures (31 casts and 58 hospital visits) and works arduously studying English and learning to walk anew, while missing her family. Mixing Davis’s third-person narrative and Uwitonze’s first-person introspection (via letters to her sister), interspersed with endearing photographs, the authors sensitively convey Uwitonze’s wealth of strength through adversity and the familial love—from both her own family and her American host family—that helped her navigate her experience. A glossary of Kinyarwanda words and notes from the authors conclude. Ages 8–12. [em](Oct.) [/em]