Review of In the Shadow of 10,000 Hills by Jennifer Haupt

Hello Readers,

Thank you to Jennifer Haupt for generously supplying me with a free review copy of In the Shadow of 10,000 Hills. I received this book for free in exchange for an honest review. All thoughts and opinions are my own.

I was fascinated to read the press release for Haupt's debut novel, and I wanted to share it with you as an introduction to this book. I think it gives a lot of insight into the creation of this haunting and powerful book. 

"This multi-cultural story deftly follows the intertwining journeys of three women from vastly diverse backgrounds searching for personal peace in post-genocide Rwanda.

At the heart of this novel that New York Times bestselling author Caroline Leavitt calls “blazingly original” is the search for family, and the discovery of grace when there can be no forgiveness.

Jennifer Haupt went to Rwanda in 2006 as a reporter, a decade after the genocide, to explore the connections between forgiveness and grief. She spent a
month traveling through the 10,000 hills, interviewing aid workers and genocide survivors. She visited more than a dozen churches and schools where there were still bloodstains on the walls and the bones of anonymous victims carefully stacked on shelves. It struck her that she was nearly always the only one at these haunting memorials. The guides were survivors, mostly women, whose families and friends had been murdered at the site.

Haupt felt a deep connection with these women, as a Jew whose relatives had also been murdered in a genocide and as a human being whose soul ached for humanity. It struck her that the common human bond, the emotional resonance that ties us all together, is grief. Her quest became more about finding the stories of a kind of grace — personal peace — than forgiveness.

The Rwandans have a word for that translates to “peace” but means so much more since the genocide: Amahoro. This greeting conveys sorrow for the past and hope for the future. The stories of amahoro that Haupt heard from genocide survivors and aid workers alike are the core of the novel she worked on for eleven years."

After reading about Haupt's journey through Rwanda I knew I wanted to read her book and see how she would weave a story that surrounds such a heartbreaking time in Rwanda's history. Haupt wrote a book about a time in history that is extremely difficult to write about, but she succeeded in telling her story about three women who were all touched by different tragedies that will connect them in profound ways. Nadine, Rachel, and Lillian are brought together through the connection of one man, Henry. Nadine's connection with Henry, Rachel is the daughter he left in the states at a young age to pursue his passion for photography, Lillian is the woman he fell in love at a young age but couldn't fully commit because sometimes love isn't enough reason to stay with someone. 

Something that really stood out to me throughout the sections of the book about Rachel and Henry is the theme of "tomorrow." Tomorrow Henry will be a better husband/father. Tomorrow Rachel will be a more supportive wife/daughter. Tomorrow Rachel will face everyone in Rwanda. I kept thinking what the significance of this was to each character. What does tomorrow mean? What does it mean in this book? Tomorrow is putting off what you can do today. Tomorrow is waiting to see if things get better. Tomorrow is a new day. Tomorrow is unknown. I kept thinking through this throughout the book. If you have read this novel did you see this theme?

This book is not a light story that you will breeze through, but it is a story you will be glad you read because it is a story worth reading even if it will tear your heart out. 

Quotes that stood out to me:

"It occurs to her that fear is what has given the Hutus their power."

"The Slaughter. That's what Lillian calls it. Genocide is far too polite."

"At least anger is good fuel for doing something productive."

"Lord, she says now, may my children have the peace in their sleep that is not always possible during waking hours."

"People say God lives in the ten thousand hills of Rwanda."

In the Shadow of 10,000 Hills

Happy Reading,


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