BROKEN MEMORY by Élisabeth Combres


Age Range: 10 - 13
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Emma is a Tutsi orphan living with the Hutu woman who took her in, at risk of death, during the Rwandan genocide in 1994. Emma can remember nothing of her life before then, except for the sounds of her mother being brutally murdered and her mother’s last words to her: “You must not die, Emma!” In a gentle narrative focusing on details of daily life, readers follow Emma finally home and to a restored memory. Though well-focused, the translated text drifts at an awkward pace and between perspectives and offers little beyond Emma’s very specific psychological and emotional journey. An author’s note that provides much-needed historical context for young readers appears at the back of the book; it would, perhaps, have been better placed before the beginning of the novel. Still, readers interested in the topic or engaged in a class setting will find this brief work approachable and evocative, and the dearth of materials on the Rwandan genocide for this age makes it stand out. (Fiction. 10-13)

Pub Date: Oct. 1st, 2009
ISBN: 978-0-88899-892-7
Page count: 120pp
Publisher: Groundwood
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1st, 2009


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