Auma’s Long Run

Eucabeth Odhiambo. Carolrhoda, $17.99 (304p) ISBN 978-1-5124-2784-4
This gripping novel set in a Kenyan village in the 1990s chronicles the rampant and little-understood AIDS epidemic through the perspective of ambitious 13-year-old Auma, a track star who dreams of becoming a doctor. Debut novelist Odhiambo builds suspense as Auma gains knowledge about the disease (often called “slim”) from the deaths of her best friend’s parents and the whispers of gossip; matters become intensely personal when her father, who had been working in Nairobi, falls ill. “Were the deaths connected, or was it all just coincidence?” Auma wonders. After her father dies, the family is economically imperiled, and as Auma matures, she deals with restrictive gender roles, the pressure to marry, and difficult decisions as others close to her sicken and die; in one scary instance, she must fend off the advances of a sick neighbor who thinks a virgin might cure him. The novel spans two years, and Odhiambo smoothly weaves in medical details throughout, along with the evolving understanding of AIDS. A hard-hitting story of a resilient and intelligent girl who bravely confronts a devastating health crisis. Ages 8–up. (Sept.)

Correction: An earlier version of this review misstated the novel's setting.

Reviewed on: 07/24/2017
Release date: 09/01/2017
Genre: Children's
Paperback - 304 pages - 978-0-8234-4565-3
Open Ebook - 304 pages - 978-1-5124-4852-8
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