Broken Memory: A Novel of Rwanda

by Elisabeth Combres and Shelley Tanaka

Almost ten years have passed since the Rawandan genocide, and teenage Emma has blocked... read more

Almost ten years have passed since the Rawandan genocide, and teenage Emma has blocked out most of what happened when her mother was killed by the Hutus. She was five then, and an older Hutu woman risked her life to shelter the Tutsi girl. Their loving and supportive relationship has helped Emma survive from day to day, but she hasn’t come to terms with the terrible violence of the past. Set in 2004, when the gacaca courts were beginning in Rawanda, Êlisabeth Combres’s novel addresses its grave subject matter with sensitivity. Ndoli, a boy who lives in Emma’s village, is another traumatized survivor who encourages her to get help from a therapist, a survivor who helps Emma face the past so that she can embrace the future. While there are a few questions about characters’ ages and the passage of time in this spare, eloquent story, it speaks to a difficult and painful past and the hope that comes with the hard work of healing. An author’s note provides background information on the Rawandan genocide and the gacaca courts. (Age 13 and older)

© Cooperative Children's Book Center, Univ. of Wisconsin - Madison, 2010

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