Doubleday Canada, 2014 (2014)
Reviewed by Hilary Williamson
know when I pick up a YA novel by Eric Walters that it will be sensitive, thoughtful and relevant to current events. All that is true once more of his latest work,
, which speaks to the plight of young refugees, in this particular case in Africa (where refugees have been created lately both by war and disease) but really all over the world.
starts in Kenya where thirteen-year-old Muchoki once lived happily with his parents (who ran a store) and small sister Jata. Then, sudden violence erupted, killing Muchoki's father and sending the others to a refugee camp, where Muchoki still suffers terrifying dreams. Nevertheless, he does what he can to look after the small family, arising early to wait for the water trucks and hunting for game (with his new friend Jomo).
uchoki's father was a Kikuyu and his mother Kamba, in a land where tribal affiliation matters (it was a cause of the political violence and slaughter). His mother was estranged from her family after she married outside the tribe. But when she sickens and dies and the siblings face separation, Muchoki decides he and Jata must make the long journey (through the capital of Nairobi) to his mother's people in Kikima.
soldier who befriended the family helps them leave the camp, even though he is a Kalenjin and his tribe killed Muchoki's father. He tells Muchoki, '
You cannot fight evil by becoming evil ... The only cure for darkness is light.
' Their journey is a long and hard one, but people help them on their way - a Maasai warrior, kind women in a church, an old man with a cart of oranges, a man roasting maize, and an orphan. But if they finally reach Kikima - will they be welcomed?
is a heartwrenching, especially when you think about the reality it's based on. Do read the
at the back, and join the journey by checking out the digital companion to the novel on www.ericwalterswalkinghome.com.
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