4 out of 4 stars
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South Sudan is the world's youngest country. After gaining its independence, there were great hopes for peace and a brighter future for the younger generation. However, during the years following the establishment of the new country up until now, South Sudan still suffered tremendously from civil unrest. Violence and fighting among rival tribes forced many people to flee to neighboring countries. The End of Where We Begin by Rosalind Russell tells the accounts of some such citizens whose lives were uprooted.
The author is a journalist who had first hand experience visiting the refugee camp of Bidi Bidi in Uganda. It was there that she met the people who inspired this book. The characters and stories are true tellings of what happened to just a few of the unfortunate people who lived and survived during that trying time. Most of the stories are about Lillian, a young mother who was separated from her son, Veronica, a teenage mother forced to raise her baby and younger sister alone, and Daniel, a bright young man who had to give up his promising future at university to travel with his mother and sister to the camp.
This book is full of so much heart. It is clear that the author cared about the people and the topics she wrote about. She seems to have made every effort to ensure that their stories were told in the most authentic way possible. The lives of these people are so amazing and inspiring that their stories jump off of the pages. It is easy to visualize the refugee camp and to feel the pain of loss experienced by so many there. The author did an excellent job writing from the perspectives of these characters and allowing the readers to understand the events through their eyes.
This book was so interesting and enjoyable to read. Even though the stories were tragic, there was a theme of hope and perseverance that was beautiful to see. I really loved this novel. I felt for the characters and became invested in their stories. Once I started reading, I wanted to keep going. I was eager to know what happened in all of their lives. To me, the best part of this book is how the author has exposed her readers to a people and a place that many people are unaware of. I think the work she has created is an important exposure of a terrible part of our world that is an unfortunate reality. It also serves as a reminder that many of us lead very privileged lives simply because of the luck of where we were born. Oftentimes, we forget to be thankful for this, and this novel helps remind us of that.
I really didn't have a least favorite part of this book. It was hard to find something to dislike. The topic was interesting, the writing was excellent, and the thoughts the story provoked are sure to linger. There were only a handful of minor editing errors that didn't take away from the reading experience at all. Therefore, I give this book 4 out of 4 stars. I highly recommend it to any readers. Those who are interested in history, foreign correspondence, and simply personal tales of heartache and redemption will likely enjoy this book. If you just aren't a fan of nonfiction, then it might not be for you, but I still would recommend giving it a try. This is an eye-opening book, and it gives a voice to a part of the world that may not always be heard.
The End of Where We Begin
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