In the Shadow of 10,000 Hills

Jennifer Haupt. Central Avenue (IPG, dist.), $15.95 trade paper (384p) ISBN 978-1-77168-133-9
A woman’s pursuit of the truth about what happened to her father leads her to post-genocide Rwanda in Haupt’s ambitious debut. Rachel Shepherd’s search for her estranged father, photographer Henry Shepherd, leads her to an orphanage in the Virunga Mountains of Rwanda in the year 2000. There she meets and is welcomed by Lillian Carlson, an African-American woman from Atlanta who runs an orphanage that she built with Henry after he left his family in New York. Lillian welcomes Rachel but says no one has heard from Henry in two years. Rachel stays on in the hopes of learning more. She meets Nadine, a young Tutsi woman who barely survived the 1994 massacres; Tucker, a Californian doctor; and many others who live with memories Rachel cannot even fathom. Their stories and the photos Henry left behind help her to understand what it really means to have strength of character and to love. Unfortunately, Nadine is the only major character who is Rwandan; the rest are American, leaving the reader disconnected from the people whose plight constitutes one of the major themes of the book. But the Rwanda described in the text is beautiful, a place where “pink winged geese glide among over-sized purple lilies that bow like ladies in waiting,” and, like the main narrative, it is alive with people working to come together and heal. Even though it’s ostensibly about the Rwandan genocide, Haupt’s story is one of humanity and hope. (Apr.)
Reviewed on: 03/26/2018
Release date: 04/01/2018
Genre: Fiction
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