Jean Patrick Nkuba, a young Rwandan 800-meter phenom, trains for the Olympics under the watch of his Hutu coach as Hutu-Tutsi violence escalates, in Running the Rift (Algonquin, Jan.). Naomi Benaron’s Bellwether Prize–winning first novel brings the reader a horrific period of history in a deeply human way—helping to clarify the issues between the two groups while writing about a beautiful country, its customs and landscape, and citizens hoping for a better life and some stability. As the novel progresses and Jean Patrick continues to train, he and his fellow Tutsis are gripped by fear as they witness and endure unspeakable violence, until he is forced to literally run for his life. As difficult as the subject matter may be, it is important, illuminating, and ultimately affirming. Benaron writes about Rwandans with great affection and intimate knowledge, populating her story with characters whose hearts and hopes prevail beyond the terror.