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Auma's Long Run
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"If you're looking for a terrific story with an unbeatable protagonist and some important knowledge thrown into the mix, you need to read Auma's Long Run by Eucabeth Odhiambo. Auma's Long Run is the perfect vehicle for apprising readers of the history and present dangers of HIV/AIDs in Kenya, while presenting an engaging story. We are introduced to Auma, a serious child who loves to run, wants to become a doctor, and witnesses with a desperate helplessness as so many people in her village die of a mysterious disease. We also learn about the culture of this village--education, traditions, food, and religion, in a way that is woven into the narrative of Auma's story without feeling like we're learning. Questions unanswered (often unasked) about the disease are addressed in this compelling young adult book. For example, rumors such as an infected man could rid himself of the disease by having sex with a virgin girl furthered the spread of the disease. Whether the reader is looking to read a good story or learn something, Auma's Long Run will satisfy. Highlighting the need for educating populations, particularly in science, should make this a popular and compelling choice among teachers for a classroom read."--Jennifer Wills Geraedts, Beagle and Wolf Books & Bindery

--Website

"This gripping novel set in a Kenyan village in the 1980s chronicles the rampant and little-understood AIDS epidemic through the perspective of ambitious 13-year-old Auma, a track star who dreams of becoming a doctor. Debut novelist Odhiambo builds suspense as Auma gains knowledge about the disease (often called 'slim') from the deaths of her best friend's parents and the whispers of gossip; matters become intensely personal when her father, who had been working in Nigeria, falls ill. 'Were the deaths connected, or was it all just coincidence?' Auma wonders. After her father dies, the family is economically imperiled, and as Auma matures, she deals with restrictive gender roles, the pressure to marry, and difficult decisions as others close to her sicken and die; in one scary instance, she must fend off the advances of a sick neighbor who thinks a virgin might cure him. The novel spans two years, and Odhiambo smoothly weaves in medical details throughout, along with the evolving understanding of AIDS. A hard-hitting story of a resilient and intelligent girl who bravely confronts a devastating health crisis."--starred, Publishers Weekly

--Journal

"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."--starred, School Library Journal

--Journal

"In Odhiambo's debut novel, a young girl faces a difficult decision when AIDS hits her Kenyan village. Born 'facedown, ' 13-year-old Auma knows she's destined for great things. As one of the fastest runners in school, track is her ticket to getting a scholarship to continue her education. But in her village of Koromo, people are dying at an alarming rate from a disease called AIDS, and few people really know why. Auma's dream is to become a doctor and help those afflicted. When first her father becomes ill and then her mother soon after, Auma is left shouldering the responsibility of caring for her family. Grades and running begin to take a back seat to feeding her family, and Auma must find the strength to follow her dreams, no matter how impossible they seem. In Auma, Odhiambo draws from her own experiences of growing up in Kenya during the beginning of the AIDS crisis to present a strong, intelligent protagonist who questions and refuses to give in to what is normally accepted. Auma treats readers to beautiful descriptions of the world around her but also gives them a candid look at the fear and superstition surrounding AIDs in its early days in Kenya as well as the grief of loss. All of the characters are black. Honestly told, Auma's tale humanizes and contextualizes the AIDs experience in Kenya without sensationalizing it."--starred, Kirkus Reviews

--Journal

"Auma is an inspiration and a fighter! This story is about women and courage and not giving up. I am thankful that a story like this can be shared with such honesty and compassion. The early days of the AIDS epidemic were so terrifying because there were no answers to so many questions. Auma's Long Run puts these questions into perspective and helps us to see today's society in a new light. Open this book and experience Auma's beautiful story."--Shane Mullen, Left Bank Books

--Website

"In Auma's Long Run, Eucabeth Odhiambo shares an unflinching look at the AIDS epidemic's impact on one Kenyan village and introduces readers to a determined heroine with a commitment to knowledge and a fierce dedication to her family. This is a powerful book that will spark important conversations."--Kate Messner, author of The Exact Location of Home and The Seventh Wish

--Other Print

"Auma, a rural Kenyan teenager in the years when HIV/AIDS became a national plague, is a strong runner and excellent student who desperately wants to become a doctor. But when both of her parents get sick and die, her plan to achieve her dreams is derailed; as eldest, she acts as caretaker to her dying parents, then (after their deaths), to her three siblings. She thinks, 'the three of them were depending on me to make their dreams a reality.... As frightened as I might be, I was determined not to fail.'

"Auma shows great maturity, first dealing with her father's death from HIV/AIDS and then caring for her mother, who contracted the disease from her husband. Somehow, Auma is able to graduate from grade eight, win track meets and do all the chores necessary in her rural household, but she constantly questions her situation. A natural student, Auma is inquisitive about the illness that killed her parents, and learns more about it, discovering truths that the adults in her community will not acknowledge.

"Driven Auma earns a high school scholarship, but after one year, she makes the tough decision to drop out, so that she can work in Nairobi and earn money to support her family. Readers will find themselves aligning with Auma as she hopes she will eventually return to school. In prose as forthright as Auma herself, Eucabeth Odhiambo tells a story of resilience and strength. Odhiambo, who grew up in Kenya in the '80s and '90s, saw the effects of the disease first hand; this experience plus her work with HIV/AIDs orphans helps her give life to the authentic and realistic character of Auma--a young woman to believe in--and to put a human face on the epidemic that still affects Kenya.

"Discover: Auma's life in a Kenyan village is radically changed when her parents die from HIV/AIDS, but the teenager proves to be a formidable force when it comes to keeping her family together."--Shelf Awareness


--Website

"I found Auma's Long Run to be so thoughtful and easy to read while talking about the hard subject of AIDS and death in a way that was informative without being preachy. I'd definitely recommend this book to anyone looking for a strong female lead character. This would make a great addition to any 'Strong Women' themed display."--Angela Schwesnedl, Moon Palace Books, Minneapolis, MN

--Other Print

"A heartfelt story of loss and sacrifice, dreams and resilience."--Vaunda Micheaux Nelson, author of Coretta Scott King Honoree No Crystal Stair

--Other Print

"At its vibrant heart Auma's Long Run is a coming of age story whose journey is centered on sustaining direction amidst a backdrop where fixity has been lost. It does a marvelous job of simultaneously conveying the world of a rural Kenyan village in the 1980s, along with the immediacy of its narrator's personal ambition in conflict with her duty to family and community. The drama of the narrative is fueled by a sense of traditional balance undermined by the, as yet unidentified corrosive force of AIDS, along with counterbalancing educational and athletic opportunity. Auma, a strong runner and a gifted student, is the ideal narrator to bring together the strain of restoring balance to an injured world. Her honesty, integrity, talent and personal ambition, are themselves set against her sense of duty. As moving as it is accessible and informative, Auma's story is illumined by a surprising vision of hope made all the more powerful by its realism, limited nature, and coinciding elements of loss and sacrifice. Auma's Long Run is a superb story which will resonate richly in the minds of young readers."--Kenny Brechner, Devaney Doak & Garrett Booksellers

--Website

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