When I read the review for this book in the New York Times Book Review I stimulated my interest.
From Brooklyn, New York where librarian Fiona Sweeney is searching for more meaning to her life - she decides to move on to the arid bush of northeastern Kenya. Her mission is to deliver books via camel to tiny far-flung tribal communities, nearly unknown and lacking of roads and schools, where people live daily with drought, hunger and decease.
This book gives an insight of the daily lives of this tribe, their strong devotion to tradition, and their mistrust of outsiders and white people. You will meet characters such as Scar Boy, who is shunned by the community because of his disfigurement from a hyena attack. The teacher Matani greatly appreciates the visits of the camel bookmobile. Matani has left the community for a few years to receive an education in the city and values the great gift of literacy. Then there is Kanaki, the young lady who has great dreams to go away and also be educated and would leave her old grandmother who has raised her. We have Fi Sweeney, the American, white woman librarian and Mr. Abasi the Kenyan librarian who accompanies Miss Sweeney To the tribal village called Mididima. Mr. Abasi is in the habit of calling his camel "Mother" and talks with her.
The penalties for books are severe - if books are not returned the camel mobile will stop coming to that village. And so it happens that indeed, 2 books are not returned and the village is in much uproar to find these items. Meanwhile romance developes between Mr. Matani, the village teacher and Miss Sweeney even though the wife of Mr. Matani - Jwahir - is guilty of cheating on her husband and undeserving of his love for her. The whole village is engaged in the pursuit of the 2 missing books and it is established that it leads them to Scar Boy. The tribal elders discuss an appropriate punishment for Scar Boy whose actual name is Taban - Should Taban be sent away or should he be killed? Meanwhile Fi Sweeney has fallen in love with Mr. Matani the teacher and relives fondly their night together but their union was not meant to be.
This is a captivating novel of suspence and love.
Tiger link: PS 3558.A44338 C36 2007
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