Book Review: A Forest, A Flood, And An Unlikely Star

23 Oct

Follow along with thirteen-year-old Kusiima in the third book of J.A. Myhre’s The Rwendigo Tales.

Just thirteen years old, Kusiima has no time for school, sports, or hanging out with the other boys in his African village. With no father or mother to take care of him, he works long hours to support his grandmother and sickly baby sister. Then one day, Kusiima’s life suddenly changes when he travels into a nearby protected forest. In the forest, Kusiima is presented with many choices, all with uncertain outcomes. Should he go along with illegal logging? Help to save an endangered baby gorilla? Follow a donkey to who knows where?

With each choice, Kusiima has to make yet another decision about what is right in front of him. As he does, he meets a mysterious doctor who holds the key to his past and his future. In the end, Kusiima is faced with the hardest choice of all. Can he forgive a great wrong and heal a broken relationship?

Readers of all ages won’t want to put down this exciting book that addresses current realities like AIDS, malnutrition, and environmental destruction, all set in a richly detailed African adventure story. Following along as Kusiima makes his decisions, readers will find themselves considering their own choices and growing in empathy for others. This action-packed tale of a boy, his sister, and an orphaned gorilla is also a clear call to give up bitterness and forgive deep hurts, restoring broken lives and relationships.

J. A. Myhre serves as a doctor with Serge in East Africa where she has worked for over two decades. She is passionate about health care for the poor, training local doctors and nurses, promoting childhood nutrition and development, and being the hands of Jesus in the hardest places. She is married to her best friend and colleague Scott, and together they have raised four children for whom many of her stories were written as Christmas presents.

Find out more about J.A. at http://paradoxuganda.blogspot.com.

My Impressions:

I first became acquainted with J. A. Myhre’s writing when I read the first book in the Rwendigo Tales, A Chameleon, A Boy, And A Quest. I loved, loved, loved that book and gave it a highly recommended rating. So of course I jumped on the chance to review the third book in the series, A Forest, A Flood, And An Unlikely Star. This book takes place in the same fictional area of Africa and involves another child in an adventure. But this book has a decidedly darker atmosphere. It is billed as a novel for children in grades 3-7, and I would agree that is the reading level. But due to some of the harder topics explored, I would suggest parents preview the book for younger children. It is an intriguing and riveting read, and I rate it highly recommended.

Kamiisa is a thirteen year old boy whose world has undergone upheaval in the past year. His mother has died, his baby sister is seriously ill, and he lives a day-to-day existence working for pennies to support his family. His grandmother loves him, but she struggles with providing the basics of shelter and food. It is a bleak existence for a boy who loves to read and learn. Because of his circumstances, Kamiisa has learned to nurture hatred in his heart — especially hatred for his absent father. God seems far off and uninterested or uncaring of what befalls him. But a couple of unlikely characters, a baby gorilla and a donkey, bring a spark of hope to his life.

Myhre is a doctor and missionary in East Africa. She first told her stories to her 4 children. I am glad that she wrote her stories down and developed them to share with other children — children who know nothing about the hardships of poverty, disease, political strife, and the struggle to survive one day at a time. Although A Forest, A Flood, And An Unlikely Star takes place is a fictional African nation, the book reflects the realities of living in Africa. Kamiisa is an endearing character. As the story progresses, his emotional and spiritual growth progresses. What was a life of despair becomes a life of hope and promise. The spiritual thread that is developed is subtle but strong, and is a great starting point for discussions about God’s care and provision. Tough issues are explored in a matter-of-fact way — showing that for the people of Africa they are a way of life.

I would not hesitate to recommend this book to families with elementary and middle school-aged children, but as stated above, I would suggest that parents check it out first. Parents know what their kids are ready for.

Highly Recommended.

Audience: children ages 9+ and adults.

To purchase this book, click HERE.

(Thanks to LitFuse and New Growth Publishers for a complimentary copy. All opinions expressed are mine alone.)

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