Today is the official release day of Jennifer Haupt’s beautiful and captivating debut novel, In the Shadow of 10,000 Hills.
As a young person, I never cared much for the news, local or international. Perhaps I was too involved in my own middle-class North American issues to care too much about what else might be going on in the world around me. Or perhaps the news cut me more than I wanted it to.
When I heard about the genocide that was happening in Rwanda in the mid 1990’s, I couldn’t stop reading about it. I couldn’t believe that this was happening in this day and age. I mean, weren’t these type of things ancient relics of wars that just didn’t happen anymore? Hadn’t we learned that differences in race, religion and culture didn’t matter?
A few years later, I was working at a large firm and met a woman from Rwanda. My face dropped and she said to me in surprise, “You know?” I told her that of course I do, doesn’t everyone? She looked immensely sad, lowered her face and said, “No, they don’t.” I’ve carried her face and words with me since then: the world didn’t know (or care) about Rwanda.
Fast forward many years later, and Jennifer Haupt’s book crosses my desk. All I can think is, “Oh, I sure hope this book is good.”
Fast forward an afternoon later, after I’ve finished reading the entire thing in one go, and all I can think is, “Oh, I sure hope Jennifer elects to go with me instead of a big 5 publisher, because this book is so good.”
This is isn’t the kind of book that hits you over the head with the gore of what happened over twenty years ago when a million people perished. Sure, it’s a book about something the world needs to know. But it’s also a book about three women from vastly different cultures that find the ties that bind them in the most unlikely of circumstances. More than anything, it’s a book about finding family, love and grace when there can be no forgiveness.
Fast forward to now, when the world again seems to need a lesson in respecting each other. I humbly present it to you and hope that it resonates with you as much as it did with me.
Jennifer’s debut has been touted by The Seattle Times, Wally Lamb, Library Journal, Publishers Weekly, Booklist, Caroline Leavitt, SIBA, and a slew of early readers. She’ll be appearing at multiple events over the next few months, and you can find out where she is at jenniferhaupt.com/events.