Sunday, May 05, 2019

Broken Memory

Combres, Elisabeth and Tanaka, Shelley. Broken Memory: A Story of Rwanda
October 1st 2009 by Groundwood Books
Public library copy

Emma's mother was killed by Hutus in 1994, during a time of great violence in Rwanda. Emma managed to escape, and found her way to the home of an elderly Tutsi woman, who took her in even though it was risky to do so. The two help each other scratch out a meager existence. Emma would like to go to school, but there is no money, and for the first few years she is with Mukecuru (grandmother), her existence must be kept secret. When the political climate quiets a bit, Emma is able to go into the market, where she often sees Ndoli, who has experienced his own trauma. The two help each other out, but Emma continues to have bad dreams about what happened to her. When a group of Tutsis are brought into town for a trial, Emma must learn to come to terms with her past in order to go forward with her life.
Strengths:While this doesn't gloss over the horrors that occurred in 1994, it addresses them in a way that younger readers can understand. Emma's daily life and difficulties are well explained, and it is good to see that she has support from Mukecuru as well as a therapist. The notes at the end help explain the history of the story. This is a brief book, but very informative.
Weaknesses: This doesn't have the same level of detail concerning daily life in an African country that Buried Beneath the Baobab Tree had, but it's great to see some books set in different countries. My students often have no understanding of any life different from their own.
What I really think: Definitely purchasing. Our 8th grade has a unit of societies with different types of oppression, so this is perfect for that, plus it is just good to have something on different historical topics.

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