November 17, 2017

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Auma’s Long Run by Eucabeth Odhiambo | SLJ Review

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redstarODHIAMBO, Eucabeth. Auma’s Long Run. 304p. Carolrhoda. Sept. 2017. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9781512427844.

Gr 5 Up –In this novel set in 1980s Kenya, HIV/AIDS ravages Auma’s village and leaves her and her three siblings orphans. The girl’s speed and good grades lead to a track scholarship at a provincial high school. Auma’s life is at times overwhelmingly harsh, from her culture’s low expectations for girls to the threat of starvation to the dangers she faces from village men. She aspires to become a doctor and help cure the disease; she wants to “find out what is killing our people, and once I find out, I will work to end it.” Her grandmother, Dani, accuses Auma of being selfish because she refuses to be married at 15 and stay in the village to take care of her sister and brothers. Odhiambo grew up in Kenya and later studied HIV/AIDS education in Kenyan schools. She writes in the author’s note that the deaths that resulted from this disease left many unanswered questions at the time because information on “slim,” as HIV/AIDS was nicknamed, was not available until the mid-1990s and the local Luo culture did not encourage open discussion about the disease. Using straightforward language, Odhiambo addresses traditions of the Luo culture and details about HIV/AIDS, including how it is contracted and its effects on the body. VERDICT This moving testament to the power of determination to overcome overwhelming odds is a recommended purchase for all libraries.–Sarah Wilsman, Bainbridge Library, ­Chagrin Falls, OH

This review was published in the School Library Journal June 2017 issue.

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