In the Shadow of 10,000 Hills

Pub Date:   |   Archive Date: 30 Jun 2018

Member Reviews

“In Rwanda, they have a word ….: Amahoro. It means peace, but so much more.” 

Jennifer Haupt writes of the word “Amahoro” often when she is writing about Rwanda. It means a quest for peace, the type of peace that comes within your soul, your essence, when you have truly forgiven someone and now are at rest with the past. It is a difficult state to achieve, much more difficult if you have been through trauma, but it is this peace, the quest for it and the journey taken along the way, that is at the heart of In the Shadow of 10,000 Hills.

This is the tale primarily of Rachel who, after surviving a miscarriage and the death of her mother, feels the need to seek out her estranged father. a photojournalist living in Rwanda. However, it is also about the women of the villages, the aide workers, her father’s new wife who runs an orphanage in Rwanda and about their commonality of grief. Through the story we learn about the horror, the genocide, that occurred in Rwanda in the 1990s, and we learn how difficult it is to put your life back together after such a massive trauma – but also that trauma, no matter how great or small – binds us all together in a very unique way. It is that link that should open our eyes to the horrors we are causing every single day.

10,000 Hills is not meant to be a documentary of the genocide in Rwanda. It is an opportunity for many readers, all over the world, to learn a bit more about this travesty and, through this knowledge, hopefully, to seek out more resources. That is what I adore about world fiction- it whets the appetite to know more. Many who read this never will have heard of Rwanda, nor will they know about the genocide there. Through a beautiful story they will learn. It is the first step.

The tale itself is marvelously written, the prose is beautiful. It is one of those rare books that opens up both another world outside of my “American concepts” as well as nudges me in the direction to seek out my own peace, to be a better person.

Kudos to Haupt for an excellent book that should be read by all. May we and the world seek and experience Amahoro. 

Thank you, also, to Jennifer Haupt and Netgalley for the opportunity to read this incredible piece of work
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"Amohoro" means peace in Rwanda.  A common phrase spoken though not much peace occurs in Rwanda after the genocide. 

Family comes in all forms.  It's not only your blood family but those that chose you.  Tragic events bring Rachel on a quest to Rwanda to find a father who left when she was very young.  She wants to know why he left her and what he found in Rwanda.  What she finds is a woman raising orphans in the middle of no where.  She finds secrets, about herself and eventually love.
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In her introduction to 'In the Shadow of 10,000 Hills', Michelle Halket admits that she was never one to follow the news. But the news about Rwanda in 1994 consumed her. She writes, “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.”

This sentiment is my blog's ( raison d'être, fostering the urge to learn about the people who have both bolstered society and sought to destroy it. So, because my biggest concern in 1994 was how I was finally going to stop biting my nails and not what was happening halfway around the world, 'In the Shadow of 10,000 Hills' by Jennifer Haupt opened my eyes to the 1994 Rwanda genocide.

Summary of 'In the Shadow of 10,000 Hills'

After a miscarriage, Rachel feels the urge to seek out her estranged photojournalist father Henry who she learns lived in Rwanda. She travels to Rwanda 10 years after the genocide to meet Lillian. Originally from Georgia, Lillian operates an orphanage in Rwanda that she and Henry built together. During her stay, Rachel learns about her father while witnessing how Rwandan’s are coming to terms with the genocide. 

Haupt also visited Rwanda a decade after the genocide. On her bio page, Haupt explains that she traveled to Rwanda as a journalist “to explore the connections between forgiveness and grief.” She writes, “It struck me that the common human bond, the thing that ties us all together and transcends our differences, is grief. My quest became more about finding grace — personal peace — than forgiveness. In Rwanda, they have a word for this: Amahoro. It means peace, but so much more. This is the core theme of the novel I worked on for eleven years. Now, more than ever, I believe the world needs Amahoro.”

I hope that grief isn’t the only thing that transcends our differences, but it is a powerful unifier. Haupt makes a valuable point about Amahoro though. The genocide is unforgivable, but it happened. The only way for Rwandan’s to move past it is to make peace or Amahoro with it. In 'In the Shadow of 10,000 Hills', Nadine, Lillian and Henry’s adopted daughter, has the best story arc relating the genocide and the idea of personal peace.

Who Should Read 'In the Shadow of 10,000 Hills'

In her introduction, Halket also points out that the three leading ladies in In the Shadow of 10,000 Hills come from different backgrounds, but they all work together and support each other. This juxtaposed against the close-mindedness that caused the genocide makes 'In the Shadow of 10,000 Hills' a beautiful work of art.

I can’t think of anyone wouldn’t like 'In the Shadow of 10,000 Hills.' It is the best book I’ve read since starting by blog Picking Books. 'In the Shadow of 10,000 Hills' is not mass-market fiction, but it reads like it is. The characters are authentic and unforgettable, the pacing is spot on, and it makes you think. Although it does deal with the serious issue of the Rwandan genocide, 'In the Shadow of 10,000 Hills' is not depressing. Instead, it is both moving and hopeful.

For an in-depth look at the genocide as it relates to 'In the Shadow of 10,000 Hills' visit
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I enjoyed the book immensely it was historically dense and deeply emotionally engaging, everyone has secrets or something they seek and brought together on the red earth of Rwanda all the pieces begin to tessellate into a shape none of them expected. I highly recommend.
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Powerful, important, beautifully written page-turner that everyone should read. Though it deals with an horrific period of history the captivating writing engages the reader so that we will never forget.
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I felt compelled to watch Hotel Rwanda after getting about halfway through this book. I knew little about the terrible events of that time. It is so hard to believe they actually happened so recently. The story, or rather subject matter, was fleshed out here and drew me in more.  It’s interesting to learn about the back stories of things I didn’t necessarily follow when they were occurring. Thanks to NetGalley and the publisher for providing this book for review.  I would recommend it.
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In the Shadow of 10,000 Hills is a historical fiction novel about Rachel, a young woman from the United States who, after a late-term pregnancy loss, flies to Rwanda to find the father who abandoned her and her mother when Rachel was eight years old. She travels to visit an orphanage run by Lillian, the African-American woman Rachel's father Henry had married after leaving Rachel and her mother. After seeing how Lillian and Henry built a family with the orphans that lived with them during and after the Rwandan genocide in 1994. In particular, Rachel meets a young woman named Nadine who looked up to Henry as a new father after her own parents were murdered. Rachel must come to terms with her father's abandonment as she learns that Henry had done the same thing in Rwanda - he is no longer there, as he had abandoned Lillian and Nadine as well.

I have to address the elephant in the room on this one - four of the main characters are not native citizens of Rwanda, and two of those are white. When I started reading this, I had some pretty significant concerns that this would turn into a white savior novel. So let me start now by saying that is absolutely not the case in this novel. Without revealing any spoilers, I just want to say that In the Shadow of 10,000 Hills manages to empower every one of the characters in his or her own way without taking anything away from the others. The novel had an interesting take on justice and forgiveness, and Lillian's experience in United States's civil rights movement definitely added an interesting layer. It had very little focus on racism, which I was glad to see - while racism is undoubtedly a topic that needs discussed, this novel was not the place for that discussion. Instead, it looked carefully at Nadine, a young Tutsi woman, who must overcome the trauma she experienced during the genocide when she was a child. Nadine's inner journey is engaging and sympathetic, and while part of me wishes that Nadine had just been made the main character as well as the narrator, I do still think that Rachel, Henry, Lillian, and Tucker had some interesting things to add to Nadine's journey.

Having said that, there truly are some stunning characters in this book. Rachel can sometimes come across as self-centered, but her appreciation for the beauty of Rwanda as well as her deep respect for Lillian and Nadine made her likable still, and by the end of the story she had developed enough to be just as sympathetic as the others. Lillian's search of independence was inspiring, and even when she made poor decisions I could not help but admire her. Nadine was by far my favorite character - she was strong and determined and ambitious, and her back story added to her strength rather than taking that way. As a whole, I found myself wanting more from Nadine - more narrative from her, more dialogue, and I was highly invested in her personal growth. Tucker was less well-developed, but was just a generally likeable character. Even Henry, who often felt like the villain of the novel, was deeply complex, and I had sympathy for him by the end, even if I could not admire him.

My biggest complaint with In the Shadow of 10,000 Hills is pacing. I don't mind slow books, and was prepared for this one to take awhile to find its stride. The problem for me was that it took too long for me to even figure out the direction of the plot. A good deal of the time spent on Rachel's life in the United States felt unnecessary to me - I didn't really need to see any scenes before she arrived in Rwanda - I felt that it all could have been told in flashbacks if it needed to be shown in the first place. Similarly, the email exchange at the beginning between Rachel and Lillian just dragged on to the point where I was not quite sure Rachel was going to make it to Rwanda in the first place. I think so many of my concerns with the plot and the pacing could have been solved if we had been given character development on the fly rather than whole scenes devoted to back story.

I think the best part of In the Shadow of 10,000 Hills was the time spent on the setting - both the physical setting of Rwanda as well as the people in the villages and farms near the orphanage. Through Rachel's eyes we were able to see Rwanda as it was after the genocide - how divisions between the Hutus and Tutsis still lingered, how many still mourned the deaths of their loved ones, and how both sides kept their humanity, even after the horrific killings.

In all, I'll give In the Shadow of 10,000 Hills an 8 out of 10. There was so much to enjoy with the characters and the setting, and I felt like I learned a lot of real history and culture, so this is a great novel for those interested in world history and travel. However, readers wanting a fast-paced action-adventure should pass on this one.
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A slow and sad but beautifully written book, mostly set in Rwanda before and after the genocide that took place there in 1994, but through the eyes of several Americans living or travelling there. I did not know very much about the history of Rwanda, and this book not only educated me but actually prompted me to do a little more reading about it, just heartbreaking.
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I can't even finish this. I wanted to. I'm at 40% and Nothing has improved for me.  It's terribly dull, I don't like any of the characters, none of them stand out from each other. I'm not a fan of all the time jumping, I'm not intrigued by any part of the plot. 

Like ahhh I can even say I like the writing because it's just meh and then it gets weird on parts. Like people don't sound like real people. They are overly fluffed like a day time hallmark movie. 

I wanted to enjoy this because of the subject matter, it's not something I know a lot about. But nothing is hooking me and I really don't want to spend more of my time on this when I have so many other things to do. 

Congrats to the author but it's not for me.
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Jennifer Haupt brings together the stories of characters caught in a picture together during the Civil Rights movement of the 1960s with the Genocide in Rwanda in the 1990s. In using multiple time periods, Jennifer educates the reader, makes them feel the brutal genocide that took place in Rwanda while having her characters find forgiveness, redemption, and hope by the end of her story. A must read!
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Many different difficult subjects are tackled in this book.  Interracial love.  Miscarriage.  Pain.  Loss.  Rape.  Torture.  Genocide.  Violence.  Mutilation.  Betrayal.  And then, Forgiveness.  Love.  Hope.  Peace.

This is not a light-hearted, finish-it-in-one-night read.  Instead, it’s rich in description, brilliant and powerful, compelling and memorable.

Mostly set in Rwanda, from the 60s to the beginning of the 21st century, it’s the troubling story of three women and their connection to Henry, who is talked about, but is not present in the book.  Henry specializes in broken families.

Rachel, Henry’s daughter, travels to Rwanda to investigate the mystery of her father.  Lillian, the woman who began a relationship with Henry in the 60s, ultimately moves to Rwanda and raised orphans.  Nadine, is the girl who was rescued from massacre by Henry.    

This intense and engaging novel, based on truth, is remarkable in that it is a first novel for the author.  Well done, Ms. Haupt.  Thank you to NetGalley for the opportunity to read and review this book.  I thoroughly enjoyed it.
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In 2000, Rachel Shepherd wants to find out the truth about what happened to her father.  To do this, she will travel to Rwanda to try to find her answer.  Henry Shepherd, her father was a famous photographer.  The search leads her to an orphanage in the Virgunga Mountains in Rwanda.  She meets Lillian Carlson, an African-American from Atlanta, that built the orphanage with Rachel’s father.  Lillian runs the orphanage.  Lillian tells Rachel she has not heard from her father for two years.  No one has heard from him.   Rachel decides to stay on hoping to learn more about her father.  She meets a young Tutsi woman, Nadine who barely survived the 1994 massacres.  Will Rachel find what she wants to know?

In the novel, there are beautiful descriptions of Rwanda.  There are flashbacks to the 1970’s and 1990’s throughout the story.  It is suspenseful and emotional to read.  It showed me how forgiveness is possible regardless of the incident.  It is a book that should be read by all.
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Harrowing tale of ordinary people living through the aftermath of the Rwanda-genocide, wrapped in the story of a young woman looking for her photographer-father who left her and her mother two decades ago.
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A lovely, nuanced book that has stayed with me long after I read the last page. I look forward to recommending it widely.
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Jennifer Haupt's "In the Shadow of 10,000 Hills" is an important book.  Through the voices of three women, Haupt explores the issues of loss and forgiveness, horror and healing as she navigates  her characters'  responses to the American Civil Rights Movement and the teachings of Martin Luther King, Jr. and to the Rwandan Genocide.  Examining these large historical events through the eyes of characters the reader comes to know intimately enables such human rights abuses and social justice issues to be understood on a more microscopic level that is less overwhelming--but not less horrific--than dealing with these actions through newspaper headlines or history books.  I strongly recommend this novel and thank Net Galley for making it available to me.
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Sometimes you just know, almost as soon as you start reading, that you're going to love a book.   This was one of those times.   I started In the Shadow of 10000 Hills by Jennifer Haupt with high expectations and not for one moment was I disappointed.  The note from Michelle Halket, Publisher,  set the tone perfectly.

" This 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.

She also made an observation about the fact the world didn't  know (or care) about Rwanda.    I felt somewhat ashamed to realise that I fell into the category of those who didn't know.   Not really.  Not in any detail.   The shocking history of Rwanda's genocide - the clash between Tutsi's and Hutu's - was interwoven into this story, somewhat remedying my knowledge gap and most  definitely placing me firmly amongst those who do care.      Meanwhile, I was caught up in Rachel,  Lilian & Nadine's stories.  I admired Lilian for devoting her life to raising orphans, yet she always judged herself harshly feeling she wasn't doing enough.   I felt compassion for Rachel seeking to understand how and why  her father abandoned her at age 8, trying to reconcile her memories and fantasies of him with the sometimes less than pleasant realities.   I felt such sympathy for Nadine who was 13 when she witnessed the atrocities, lost her entire family and was herself terrorised.  Six years on she's still dealing daily with the memories and I couldn't help respect the way she did all possible to spare her new family from the details, wanting only amahoro (peace).     I loved Lillian's prayer for Nadine and the other children in her care “Lord, may my children have the peace in their sleep that is not always possible during waking hours.

I was smitten with the writing, loved the story and was grateful for the way Jennifer Haupt opened my eyes in an impartial and fair way to the events in 1994 Rwanda.   Everyone in Rwanda was touched in some way and as Lillian said " everyone here is summoning what’s left of their faith, some praying and some only hoping that mankind’s capacity for love is greater than the history of our deeds."

Thanks so much to Central Avenue Publishing and NetGalley for the opportunity of reading this digital ARC in exchange for an honest review which it was my pleasure to provide.
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This is a novel that sheds much needed light on the atrocities of the Rwandan genocide of the 1990s. Again, a book has educated me about an event in history that I knew nothing about. In many ways I think it’s easier to pretend that events like this never really happen to shield our belief in humanity. However, we must learn that left forgotten the survivors of these events also become its victims. I commend Haupt for giving these victims their voice. 5 stars.
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I only made it 16% through because it just didn’t pull me in, and I was so hoping to love this book. I normally don’t mind the switching back and forth of characters, but I couldn’t keep the characters straight because unfortunately I couldn’t keep my interest although I really tried. Thank you Netgalley for an ARC of this book.
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In the Shadow of 10,000 Hills is Jennifer Haupt’s debut novel. Haupt carefully weaves her settings (current Rwanda, the Rwanda of the 1994 genocide, the present United States, and the States during the 1960’s Civil Rights Movement), along with multiple points of view, into a rich tapestry that will hold you spellbound as the fabric forms beneath your eyes.

Four women have loved photographer Henry: Merilee, his ex-wife who dies of cancer; Rachel, the daughter he abandoned to seek his fortune; Lillian, the woman he loved though he married Merilee; Nadine, another daughter-figure. Three of these women end up in Rwanda together at Lillian’s farm where she raises orphans along with produce. Lillian, living her dream of helping the world one person at a time rather than in a large-scale movement, loves Henry but recognizes his limitations as a man and husband. Merilee, involved in EST, decides that divorcing Henry will transform her life. Nadine, a child Henry rescued during the genocide, must deal with her own traumatic experiences as well as Henry’s abandonment. Rachel seeks relief from the grief of her second miscarriage and searching for answers as to why her father left her. 

In addition, an American physician, Tucker, grieves for his lost wife and carries the burden of co-parenting with Lillian, a child with HIV named Rose.

Against the backdrop of the Rwandan hills, these diverse characters, while attempting to heal themselves, form a multi-cultural family while their nation copes with the ugly remnants of the genocide.

In the Shadow of 10,000 Hills is extraordinary, rising slowly to an intense, satisfying peak. Moving and powerful, this book deals with universal conditions of humanity: love, abandonment, loss, grief, starting over, finding your true self, finding amahoro or peace, the devastating effects of violence, fear, and vengeance. I finished this book then immediately started it again.
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You have got to love books. From your chair, you can travel the world and historical periods with just a flip of the page. With this book, I have landed in Rwanda. I was in Rwanda in 2011, to visit my son who was teaching there and of course to go gorilla trekking. This book with its vivid descriptions of the countryside brought me back to when I was there. It is a beautiful country- lush, green and yes, it does have 10,000 hills.
Amahoro-a Kinyarwanda word meaning peace, something all our main characters are striving for. Peace from their memories of the genocide; peace from the memories haunting them. The author has written a very compelling book that revolves around that period of atrocities in Rwanda. How do you move forward after living and surviving when so many did not.
Rachel has come to Rwanda in search of her father who left when she was a child. She goes to the place he called home in Rwanda and connects with his "family" there. The past haunts them all, but the past is what connects them.
A very stirring book about survival, forgiveness and finding Amahoro!
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