About the book: Theo, a young Rwandan boy fleeing his country’s genocide, arrives in Dublin, penniless, alone and afraid. Still haunted by a traumatic memory in which his father committed a murderous act of violence, he struggles to find his place in the foreign city. Plagued by his past, Theo is gradually drawn deeper into the world of Dublin’s feared criminal gangs. But a chance encounter in a restaurant with Deirdre offers him a lifeline. Theo and Deirdre’s tender friendship is however soon threatened by tragedy. Can they confront their addictions to carve a future out of the catastrophe that engulfs both their lives?
If there’s one book you ought to read in 2017, it’s this one. I am not saying so because it deeply moved me, or because the folks at NetGalley were so smitten with me that they approved my request to read it, but because Clar (I love you Clar) delivers grief, turmoil, nostalgia, fear, anger, loss and love in crisp tones.
It’s like being at a karma restaurant where you get what you deserve and more often than not, Writers underrate readers when it comes to serving up truth and pain. Clar’s characters do not make excuses (even though Dierdre does for her husband every time his fists find a home on her body) when it comes to baring their flaws and working through their muddled life.
From the beginning, you know that Theo’s a good guy and as you read on, you wish him the best. You want him find a way out of the mess he’s in, but what edged me on was that at no point did I pity the characters. It was almost as though they were telling me “you can empathize, but please, save your pity for another book,” and in their speech you’d sense some kind of toughness. I don’t know much about the Irish, but like Theo, in reading this I felt as though his stay in both Rwanda and Ireland had their fair share of violence. In Rwanda, it was uncalled for. He did not ask for the genocide to take place, but with the drug business in Ireland, he was definitely the one who knocked and asked to be let in.
This book did a number on me and if you are thinking what I think you’re thinking, No, I did not cry! I wish I did because there were moments when reading it felt like watching a thriller, but no I did not. A few lines and scenes stuck to me like glue, so, I’ll share them:
“In the real world, goodbyes happened when you weren’t paying attention.”
“I’m feckin’ over the moon that a family found me in the bush and taught me how to hide up to my eyes in the mud. For hours, Dierdre, staying absolutely still and listening to the screams as they found other people and butchered them. So, no, I don’t take it for granted. For years, after that, I was still just trying to stay alive, trying to get up every day and keep breathing. Do you know how hard it is to do that sometimes?…I’d survived, I knew I’d made it, and then I didn’t know what to do with that.”
On the other hand, there is a sense of “I hear you” that I have when I come across any book that mentions Kenya or East Africa. It’s like coming home or being home when I read such books, and this feeling is not lost on me as I share my views on this book. I believe it made me read it closely looking out for any mistakes or falsification of events, and I did not come across any of it here.
It’s 142 days give or take to Christmas, until then you’ve got to read this book.
Like the title, Rain does indeed fall on everyone and sometimes those who are lucky enough to seek shelter cannot pretend that they were never soaking wet.
Where to get the book:
Author’s site: https://clarnichonghaile.wordpress.com/