Hope. The scale and abstractness of the inhumanity of mass violence and genocide can be so remote that those of us who have not experienced it first-hand cannot begin to imagine what it is like, let alone how we would behave if we faced such horror. Tracy Kidder makes this personal and human in his finely written new book, Strength in What Remains, in which he tells a two-part story. In the first part, he tells the story of Deogracias, a Tutsi from Burundi, who escaped Hutu violence, and eventually arrived in the United States. In the second part, Deo and Kidder return to Burundi, Rwanda, and New York, and conveys both the memories the visits trigger, and how Deo has responded to what happened. Deo’s story is packed with drama, loss, pain, and luck. At every turn, Deo move ahead, spurred on by hope. His significant response after becoming an American citizen was to return to the town in Burundi where his parents live and to build a medical clinic. Strength in What Remains is an inspiring story about an individual who displays the best of human nature that came as a response to the very worst human behavior. I came away from reading this book with renewed hope in the ability of a single individual to make a difference against any odds, and to overcome any loss to do something good for others.
Rating: Five-star (Outstanding: Read it Now)