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BURN MY HEART by Beverley Naidoo Kirkus Star


by Beverley Naidoo

Age Range: 10 - 15

Pub Date: Jan. 1st, 2009
ISBN: 978-0-06-143297-2
Publisher: Amistad/HarperCollins

Set in Kenya between November 1951 and March 1953, when indigenous Kikuyus fiercely resisted the British settlers who had stolen their lands, this somber story sheds light on a dark period of rebellion and repression fueled by racial prejudice and fear. The third-person narration, peppered with Kikuyu and Swahili words and phrases, shifts its focus between 13-year-old Mugo, a Kikuyu, and 11-year-old Mathew Grayson, son of a white landholder; they have grown up together on land once owned by Mugo’s ancestors. Unlike many of his white neighbors, who fear their workers will join the secret Mau Mau society and attack them, Mr. Grayson trusts Mugo’s father, who manages his stables. At school, Mathew is troubled by an arrogant bully whose father is the new police inspector, intent on crushing the illegal Mau Maus—whom Mugo’s brother has joined in infiltrating Grayson’s farm. As the tension mounts, readers will rightly fear that no good end can result; like Mathew and Mugo, readers’ hearts will be burned by this intense slice of historical realism. (author’s note, afterword, glossary, Kikuyu and Swahili names) (Historical fiction. 10-15)