Wednesday, October 15, 2014

The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind by William Kamkwamba

genre: non-fiction memoir

Malawi is William Kamkwamba's home.  He grew up working in the fields with his father, living off the land and at the whims of nature.  He went to bed with the sun in his small African village but his dreams were as big as the sky.  As a child and as a teen, William is curious.  William wants to know about how things WORK and WHY.  Even though famine plagues his land and his family cannot afford to send him to school, William finds a way to learn - and the things he teaches himself allows him to use junk-yard parts to build one thing that can change everything: a windmill.

When I noticed that this book was narrated by an African, I went for the audiobook and his voice was a dream.  Sometimes the accent was thick enough to make it a little tricky to understand but mostly I loved hearing the inflections and the correct pronunciations of all the names and places.

This book is beyond inspiring.  I will admit that the beginning was slow for me, I wanted to hurry up and get to the windmill part, but soon I realized how important it was for me to understand where he came from - the culture he was growing up in and the barriers in the way.  The famine was heartbreaking - I mean, HEARTBREAKING.  I am ashamed to think that I was a mother already when William was actually starving to death, at the age my son is now, and I had no idea there was famine decimating Malawi.  I appreciate that in the text, William never preached at me, he never even really complains, he just tells what his life was like then and OH it was horrible.  Besides the famine, life is just so different - so very different than the life I live.  The joy of electricity, the idea that school is not a choice for you if you can't pay expensive school fees, the appreciation for clean and accessible water and fuel - we just don't understand it here.

While being very accessible, it also does go into some scientific matters, of course.  I loved the trial and error of his building process.  I loved how his friends helped him.  I loved his mother and father and how hard they worked. I felt frustrated with his government for doing so little to help his village. This book made me feel things, and that's important.

1 comment:

bermudaonion said...

I loved that book too and think high school students need to be reading it.

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