BookDragon Books for the Diverse Reader

Strength in What Remains: A Journey of Remembrance and Forgiveness by Tracy Kidder

Strength in What RemainsWords of warning … this book might (should, even??!!) give you nightmares. But read it you must. Any and all discomfort will be worth the effort you put in either reading every one of the 300+ pages, or listening (read by Pulitzer-winning author Tracy Kidder himself) to every minute of the 8:36 audible version.

Aptly named, Deogratias – Deo, for short – is indeed a miracle, thanks be to god (that’s any and all gods!). Once a medical student in his native Burundi – the central African country that borders Rwanda, both decimated by the warring Hutu/Tutsi genocide – Deo “arrives in the big city with $200 in his pocket, no English at all, and memories of horror so fresh that he sometimes confuses past and present,” Kidder writes.

After six hellish months on the run in Africa, Deo’s new American immigrant life is filled with homelessness, violence, isolation, illness, and near starvation. “When Deo first told me about his beginnings in New York, I had a simple thought: I would not have survived.” Through the kindness of strangers, most notably an ex-nun and a Soho couple, Deo is nurtured, buoyed, supported … and his transformation is truly proof (finally!) of human grace. What Deo does in return for his new life is perhaps the even greater miracle.

To tell you too much would be a disservice to the phenomenal stories, both Deo’s and Kidder’s … but suffice it to say that this is not a story of victimization or of blind noblesse oblige charity. As Kidder so succinctly, inspiringly titles his latest book – taken from the same William Wordsworth poem that has the famous line about “splendor in the grass,” “Ode: Intimations of Immortality from Recollections of Early Childhood” – the word that stands out throughout, even during the darkest moments, is simply Strength. Amen to that!

Tidbit: To see some of the characters come to life, click here.

Readers: Adult

Published: 2009


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