Book review: Strength in What Remains

Posted on Saturday, May 15th, 2010


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Strenght in what remainsStrength in What Remains is New York Times bestselling author Tracy Kidder’s finest work so far and it is praised by many reviewers for being one of the best books of 2009 overall.

In Strength in What Remains, we read the extraordinary true story of Deo, a young Burundese man, leaving behind what once seemed a promising life in Africa as a third-year medical student.

Deo grew up in the mountains of Burundi, and survived a civil war and genocide before seeking a new and uncertain life in America. In New York City he lived homeless in Central Park while delivering groceries for starvation wages. His own ambition and a few kind New Yorkers led him to Columbia University and, beyond that, to medical school and American citizenship.

That his rise followed a familiar immigrant’s path to success doesn’t make it any less remarkable, but what gives Deo’s story its particular power is that becoming an American citizen did not erase his connection to Burundi, in either his memory or his dreams for the future.

Writing with the same modest but dogged empathy that made his recent novel Mountains Beyond Mountains (about Deo’s colleague and mentor, Dr. Paul Farmer) a modern classic, Tracy Kidder follows Deo back to Burundi, where he recalls the horrors of his narrow escape from the war and begins to build a medical clinic where none had been before.

Being an extraordinary writer, Tracy Kidder has the remarkable ability to show us what it means to be fully human, and to tell the unadorned story of a life based on hope. Riveting and inspiring, this may be his most magnificent work to date. Strength in What Remains is a testament to the power of will and friendship, and of the endurance of the soul.


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Our rating: ★★★★½


  • Author: Tracy Kidder
  • Hardcover: 304 pages
  • Publisher: Random House; First Edition edition (August 25, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1400066212
  • ISBN-13: 978-1400066216


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Tagged as Africa, Burundi, Genocide, Hutu, Rwanda, Tracy Kidder, Tutsi+ Categorized as By year, 2009, By rating, 4 Stars, By genre, Historical, By genre, Non fiction

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