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Running the Rift by Naomi Benaron
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Running the Rift (edition 2012)

by Naomi Benaron

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330None33,400 (4.17)58
Member:lynnytisc
Title:Running the Rift
Authors:Naomi Benaron
Info:Algonquin Books (2012), Edition: 1, Hardcover, 384 pages
Collections:Your library
Rating:*****
Tags:Dr. Elaine Newton's 2012 Reading List

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Running the Rift by Naomi Benaron

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The first part seemed a bit flat, almost juvenile, but as I read further I became more engrossed and accepted that a story of Jean Patrick's childhood could be more simple. The complex politics became revealed interwoven with the lives of the people, so we learned the history of Rwanda without ever feeling lectured. As I finished the fourth part I was utterly depressed. While the last sections were probably necessary to keep the reading audience engaged in a positive future for Rwanda, it seemed too miraculous to be believed.
While I stumbled a bit every time I came across Kinyarwanda phrases, overall they added to understanding the culture, as did the way different maxims were genuinely used by the people as motivators or guidance. ( )
  juniperSun | Mar 10, 2014 |
Running the Rift is the story of a young man gifted with being able to run well. It is also the story of a nation in turmoil between tribal groups with the attendant bloodshed. I read it for a book group. I give it 4 stars.
  oldman | Jan 3, 2014 |
Running the Rift is the story of Jean Patrick Nkuba, growing up in Rwanda, having a huge talent for running, a talent that could see him in the Olympics. But Jean Patrick is a Tutsi in a country controlled and run by the Hutu and as the restrictions tighten and violence escalates will he survive the brutality much less make it to the Olympics?

The story covers fourteen years, and is paced much like a long-distance race, starting off slowly, taking the time to describe the country and it’s inhabitants. We learn of one family’s strengths, how much they love and respect each other through good times and bad, and we see Jean Patrick slowing growing into a runner. The middle part of the book increases in speed slowing, allow the tensions to build as we read of Jean Patrick’s university years, he is training hard now but also he is being confronted with the inequality and the force of power that exists, but he is also falling in love, which in a country like Rwanda that judges people by their ethnic classification, can be very dangerous. The final third of the book is the sprint to the finish, the political situation comes to a head, the genocide erupts and as the killings mount and the radio blares out hatred and lists of names to be killed, Jean Patrick finally runs the race of his life.

Running the Rift was a very layered story, moving the reader through this beautiful country that was seething with hatred, fear and ignorance just beneath the surface. I found this book to be riveting, thought-provoking and emotionally stirring. Naomi Benaron breathed life into these characters and delivered a first class story. ( )
5 vote DeltaQueen50 | Oct 21, 2013 |
I am listening to the audio book and so far, it is very good. It is just starting to tell the story of a Tutsi family in the time of the Rwandan Civil War. So far, the main character is just learning about the 1973 massacre, as he has been protected for his 10 years... and his brother of 12 years old. They were growing up in an academic environment as they father was a headmaster of a school. He dies tragically in an accident on the roadway.

The reader is very good. Some of the sentences he has to read are a bit much -- if I were reading myself I would not notice. But the descriptions of some of the scenery and landscape is a bit flowery -- which does not go along with a boy's biography or the sound of the reader's voice.
  honkcronk | Aug 30, 2013 |
Beautifully written story of a young boy caught in the political upheaval in Rwanda. The characters were well written, the book was engrossing and emotional and conveyed the beauty and strength of the Rwandan people even through the horrors of the unspeakable genocide. The cultural references made the book so much richer and interesting and I learned a lot about Rwanda. A very rewarding read. ( )
  mbklibrary | Aug 25, 2013 |
Showing 1-5 of 22 (next | show all)
This well-written and well-researched novel is an impressive debut, although at times the book suffers from a surfeit of disturbing events. Our sympathy never deserts Jean Patrick. We concur with Bea when she says to him, "Your hope is the most beautiful and the saddest in the world."
 
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Epigraph
A genocide is a poisonous bush that grows not from two or three roots, but from a whole tangle that hass moldered underground without anyone noticing.
Claudine, genocide survivor, from "Life Laid Bare" by Jean Hatzfeld
Izina ni ryo muntu. The name is the very man named.
Buhoro buhoro ni rwo urugendo. Slowly, slowly, a bird builds its nest.
Urupfu rurarya ntiruhaga. Death eats and is never full.
Umuntu asiga ikimwirukaho ariko ntawusiga ikimwirukamo. You can outdistance that which is runniing after you, but not what is running inside you.
Dedication
For Mathilde Mukantabana and Alexandre Kimenyi,
whose spark lights these pages. And for all the survivors of the Rwandan Genocide who lent me their voices;
and for those who did not survive,
but whose voices whisper to me still.
First words
Jean Patrick was alread awake, listening to the storm, when Papa opened the door and stood by the side of the bed.
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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Book description
Winner of the Bellwether Prize awarded biennially by Barbara Kingsolver, Running the Rift follows Jean Patrick Nkuba, a gifted Rwandan boy, from the day he knows that running will be his life to the moment he must run to save his life, a ten-year span in which his country in undone by the Hutu-Tutsi tensions.
Born a Tutsi, he is thrust into a world where it's impossible to stay apolitical--where the man who used to sell you gifts for your family now spews hatred, where the girl who flirted with you in the lunch room refuses to look at you, where your Hutu coach is secretly training the very soldiers who will hunt down your family. Yet in an environment increasingly restrictive for his people, he holds fast to his dream of becoming Rwanda's first Olympic medal contender in track--a feat he believes might deliver him and his people from the violence.
When the killing begins, Jean Patrick is forced to flee, leaving behind the woman, the family, and the country he loves. Finding them again is the ultimate race of his life.
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Rwandan runner Jean Patrick Nkuba dreams of winning an Olympic gold medal and uniting his ethnically divided country, only to be driven from everyone he loves when the violence starts, after which he must find a way back to a better life.

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