My rating: 5 of 5 stars
Haunting but inspirational, AUMA’S LONG RUN reminds readers that the world is bigger than what we can see, and that challenges are profoundly different throughout the world.
Thanks to the publisher for the signed galley of this title provided through a giveaway.
Auma loves to run. In her small Kenyan village, she’s a track star with big dreams. A track scholarship could allow her to attend high school and maybe even become a doctor. But a strange new sickness called AIDS is ravaging the village, and when her father becomes ill, Auma’s family needs her help at home. Soon more people are getting sick even dying and no one knows why. Now Auma faces a difficult choice. Should she stay to support her struggling family or leave to pursue her own future? Auma knows her family is depending on her, but leaving might be the only way to find the answers to questions about this new disease.
Set in 1980’s Kenya during the HIV/AIDS epidemic, Odhiambo draws on her own experiences living in a village such as Auma’s to highlight the way that the disease completely ravaged the country, and still continues to do so.
This is a vitally important story, and written in a way that makes it accessible to teens. However, this is very much a middle SCHOOL book rather than middle GRADE. I would not recommend this for grades lower than 7th, based on the sexual content addressed throughout the story. As a school librarian, I would recommend this book for grades 7-12, placing it the YA category. It is NOT a book I would purchase for my elementary school library. In addition, this is a book that may not fly off shelves but requires teacher introduction and would be an incredible whole class read aloud.
Verdict: Heartbreaking and required reading, but may need adult urging to get it into the hands of kids. Recommended purchase for upper middle school and high school classrooms and libraries.