Running the Rift
Jan 21, 2012
Winner of The 2011 Bellwether Prize
Running the Rift is a fictional novel, but I could easily recommend it for required reading as the topic is such a part of the current world's history. A story that humanizes a horrendous conflict that's so easy to ignore when it's across an ocean. This book is already causing quite a stir, in a positive way, throughout the book industry.
Raised to believe that the Hutus and Tutsis are separate tribes each wanting nothing more than to raise above the other the main character, Jean Patrick, tries to live as normal a life as possible. At this point in history, the Hutus are on top with the Tutsis feeling threatened and oppressed.
Jean Patrick's family is Tutsi and he enjoys a privileged lifestyle for one as his father is a teacher at one of schools, thereby allowing his family to live on campus and attend the school itself. Normally the only Tutsis allowed to go to school have to earn the highest of grades and be able to climb over each other to fill the few allowable spots.
His life changes for the worst though when his father dies in a bus accident and they can no longer be protected by the school. The family moves in with Jean Patrick's uncle and through hard work and honorable grades, Jean Patrick is allowed to go back to school,where he is picked to start training to become a possible Olympic runner - which would show Rwanda in a good light and help his family to thrive.
This is the backdrop to the story, but the meat of it lies in the conflict between the Hutus and the Tutsis. The horrendous treatment of people on either side, the ignorant information rained down upon them daily via the radio to make sure the conflict continues, the complete destruction of life as everyone in Rwanda knows it while one side continues to attempt to annihilate the other.
Jean Patrick has good friends who are Hutu that are risking all by acknowledging him as a friend. He has a love interest,Bea,who not only has her heritage constantly questioned, but is under observation for her family being traitors. His entire life is fraught with fear. Fear for his family, his friends,his own life.
This is an excellent fictional story that also gives true details of a horrific conflict. It shows the hatred but also shows the affection and caring between the two sides.
Reviewed by Idgie. If you would like to have the Dew review a book, please contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org