Bean’s Book Review: If you’re looking for a story of perseverance, this is it. Tracy Kidder writes the story of Deo, a survivor of civil war and genocide in Burundi and Rwanda who manages to arrive in the United States with a few hundred dollars in his pocket and no English. Eventually he enrolls in Columbia University and then Dartmouth med school and finds his way back to Burundi to build a medical health clinic near his home town. That makes it sound so simple, but the horrors he faced and survived make one wonder how a being can continue. Divine intervention? Incredible mental strength? Fear? The will to live? Who knows what allows some to make it when so many others don’t. But even after somehow escaping the genocide and getting on that plane, he had difficult years of living homeless in Central Park, delivering groceries for a pittance, squatting with druggies, and dealing with nightmares. Still, he seeks out friendships and finds help from the Wolfs, a couple who takes him into their home and essentially becomes his foster parents. While in med school he meets Paul Farmer, the subject of Kidder’s previous book Mountains Beyond Mountains, and becomes involved in Partners in Health, a global health organization providing prevention and treatment in many third world countries. Partners in Health help Deo get his clinic started. This is an inspiring, depressing, and important story. A way to see the genocide through one person’s experience and a way to see how that experience can lead to so much good down the road. (non-fiction).
We were concurrently reading this! I second all of the above. In comparison to MBM, I liked the way this one captured more of Deo’s perspective. Reader can hear his voice: sharp, self-aware, and quite witty!