Two intrepid librarians

Two intrepid librarians review the best nonfiction books for children

Monday, January 15, 2018

How Dare the Sun Rise: Memoirs of a War Child by Sandra Uwiringlyimana and Abigail Pesta

How Dare the Sun Rise: Memoirs of a War Child
by Sandra Uwiringlyimana and Abigail Pesta
Katherine Tegen Books, an imprint of HarperCollins. 2017
ISBN: 9780062470140
Grade 9 thru adult

Note: While Cathy is on Sabbatical, Louise will be writing all the reviews. Cathy will return March, 2018.

In 2004, ten-year-old Sandra and her family were living in a refugee camp in Gatumba, Burundi after being forced to flee their lives in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. On the night of August 13, 2004, armed factions entered the camp and merciless slaughtered 166 people, maiming and injuring 116 others. Though Sandra, her mother, father and older brother were able to escape to safety, her little sister, Deborah was shot in the head and died that horrific night.  

In her powerful memoir, Sandra recounts her childhood in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, explaining the culture of her people - a tribe called Banyamulenge - and country. Though war was ever present (her older brother Heritage was kidnapped and forced to be a child soldier), there are many happy memories, too. 

Three years after the massacre in Gatumba, Sandra and her family are resettled in American. It’s not easy to leave all that is familiar and come to a place that is cold, you don’t know the language, and not many people are willing to make a stranger, a refugee, feel welcome. When she was a junior in high school, Sandra and her brother Alex designed a project that would change the course of her life. It was another opportunity to help people understand her experience as a refugee. 

How Dare the Sun Rise speaks honestly about how poorly Americans treat those new to our country or those who are different. By sharing her story, Sandra wants people to understand that refugees have stories and they should be comfortable sharing those stories so that we can all understand each other better. She hopes her book will help humanize refugees so the world will know that we are just like you. “We have the same goals to succeed and do what’s best for our children.” 

Highly recommended. How Dare the Sun Rise should be required reading for everyone, from Grades 9 thru adulthood. Pair it with I Am Malala. 

Sandra spoke at the 2017 ALA Annual Conference in Chicago. 
Click here to listen to a short excerpt of her speech. 
Click here to watch an interview with Sandra and Abigail Pesta on CBS News.

To write this review, I borrowed a copy of this book from my local public library.

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