Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Burn My Heart

I am always so annoyed when it takes a children's book to educate me about some historical event that I knew nothing about. Every time this happens I wonder what unit in school I slept through, or didn't get taught. Burn My Heart by Beverly Naidoo is set in Kenya in the 1950s. Mathew and Mugo are friends, although Mathew is white and Mugo is black and works for Mathew's father. Mugo is aware of his place in life, yet when Mathew goes away to school he misses his friend. At first both boys are unaware of the growing conflict between some black Kenyans who are a part of the Mau Mau rebellion trying to get their land back from the British. But tensions continue to escalate forcing both boys to eventually take notice. When a horrible event leads Mathew's father to suspect Mugo and his family of taking part in the rebellion, Mathew realizes what a good friend Mugo has been.

I was so interested in this book and learning about this time period in Kenya's history. I also appreciated the glossary in the back along with the list of Kikiyu and Swahili names. While I am not sure how much teen readers enjoy them, the Afterword in historical fiction books giving more explanation to the events are always helpful. In Burn My Heart the Afterword was especially helpful since I had no background knowledge about the event prior to reading this book.

A great book for teens and historical fiction lovers.

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