The People of Ostrich Mountain

Narrated by Lee Goettl
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Pub Date 31 Mar 2021 | Archive Date 05 Jan 2023
Bon Esprit Books, Independent Book Publishers Association (IBPA), Members' Audiobooks

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As the Mau Mau war breaks out in the foothills of Mt. Kenya, Wambũi, a fourteen-year-old girl leaves her besieged village to join a prestigious boarding school a half day’s journey away by train. There, she becomes aware of her extraordinary mathematical abilities discovered by her teacher, Eileen Atwood, whom Wambũi initially regards with suspicion and hostility, and with whom a lifelong friendship subsequently develops. Kenya in the 1950s is not ready for a female math prodigy but Wambũi quietly and defiantly takes on the obstacles seeking to define her.

Eileen is unexpectedly forced to return to England after spending forty years in Kenya, and she struggles to adjust to settling back in a country she barely recognizes. Meanwhile, Wambũi’s son, Ray, a doctor, travels to America to begin residency training, unaware of the myriad challenges that await him. As a black man, he also discovers that the streets of Chicago are sometimes quick to judge, with serious consequences.

A saga of family and friendship spanning five decades and three continents, The People of Ostrich Mountain chronicles the interconnected lives of three outsiders as they navigate the vagaries of race, gender and immigration.

As the Mau Mau war breaks out in the foothills of Mt. Kenya, Wambũi, a fourteen-year-old girl leaves her besieged village to join a prestigious boarding school a half day’s journey away by train...

A Note From the Publisher

Kirkus Star Award recipient
Readers’ Favorite Award recipient
Semifinalist, BookLife Prize

Additional Formats
Paperback: 9781735041704
E-book: 9781735041711
Kirkus Star Award recipient
Readers’ Favorite Award recipient
Semifinalist, BookLife Prize

Additional Formats
Paperback: 9781735041704
E-book: 9781735041711

Advance Praise

“Best Books of 2020”
Kirkus Reviews

“. . . Githaiga introduces readers to a bevy of memorable characters that are so skillfully drawn that they effortlessly leap off the page and into readers’ hearts . . .”
Booklife Reviews, Editor’s Pick

“A rich, absorbing story of destinies intertwined across time and space.”
Kirkus Reviews

“Powerful and absorbing, this novel is a must-read for its vivid depictions and literary relevance.”
Readers’ Favorite Reviews

“. . . would highly recommend.”
—LoveReading UK

“Best Books of 2020”
Kirkus Reviews

“. . . Githaiga introduces readers to a bevy of memorable characters that are so skillfully drawn that they effortlessly leap off the page and into readers’ hearts...

Available Editions

EDITION Audiobook, Unabridged
ISBN 9781735041759
PRICE $19.95 (USD)
DURATION 8 Hours, 31 Minutes

Available on NetGalley

NetGalley Shelf App (AUDIO)

Average rating from 41 members

Featured Reviews

Wow! Loved this story - this can be compared to a lot of different things but at its heart it’s about a family in Africa set in the 1950s. I also loved the family values

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<b>The People of Ostrich Mountain</b> is a historical fiction book that begins in the 1950s as the Mau Mau uprising breaks out in the foothills of Mt. Kenya. The story begins with a teenage girl named Wambui who has extraordinary math abilities and leaves her village during this emergency period to join a prestigious boarding school which is half a day's journey by train. It is at this school where she meets a British teacher named Eileen Atwood and the two of them develop a lifelong friendship. Rather than go to university, she chooses to return to her village in order to teach so she can help her family who are struggling financially. The book also navigates the story of Wambui's son Ray and his journey to become a physician as well as Eileen's struggle when she loses her employment and has to return to England after living in Kenya for 40 years.

I enjoy historical fiction and the information I learn while reading it. The author did a wonderful job incorporating Kenyan customs as well as the sociopolitical climate into the story, but what stood out for me was the character development, friendship, loyalty and the sense of responsibility with regards to taking care of family. The parts of the story that took place in Kenya was definitely my favorite. I especially enjoyed reading about Wambui's journey and her friendship with Eileen, and I wish a little more time had been spent on these elements.

As a nurse, I enjoyed reading about Ray's struggles and successes with medical school, residency, and immigrating to a new country, but the transition to his story felt rushed, and did not fully feel cohesive with the rest of the story, and I found myself wanting to get back to Wambui's chapters. Perhaps we were taken from his youth to medical school quickly, so i didn't feel like I got to know him as well and Wambui or Eileen. The narration was well done but it took a few chapters to get used to the audio while learning the character's names just because I am not familiar with Kenyan names, but once I got used to the characters it was easy to keep the story straight. 3.5 stars rounded up because I really enjoyed it overall and look forward to reading more of Mr. Githaiga's work.

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Thank you to the publishers, author and NetGalley for the free copy of this audio book.

This was an interesting, well written story. Loved the historical and social aspects of it, and getting to know all of the many but well developed characters. The narrator did a great job as well.

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This well-written saga has us following 3 people as they experience trials and tribulations in their lives.

Wambũi, a 14 yr old Kenyan girl, leaves her home to go to a boarding school far from home. While at school she forms a life-long friendship with one of her teachers, Aileen Atwood. Wambui will come to depend on Aileen throughout her life. Although Wambui becomes a math teacher she eventually leaves teaching to help her husband and father-in-law run their hardware store. Her shrewd business sense allows her to help their business expand and grow beyond their expectations.

Wambũi's son Ray, while studying to be a doctor in Chicago experiences prejudice at every turn although his love of medicine allows him to let it go.

After 40 years Aileen is heartbroken when she has to return to England after losing her teaching job. She felt that Kenya was her home but she lost her job due to her "being a foreigner" per Administration. Ironic that she would experience discrimination in Kenya while Ray would experience it in America.

I thoroughly enjoyed learning about Kenyan culture and family loyalties in this novel. The narrator, Lee Goettl, has a soothing voice which was easy to listen to. I found myself a little frustrated with his choice of the stuttering voice for Ray. I actually had to jump ahead or would have put the audiobook down which I did not want to do. This did not take away from the beautiful writing of Ndirangu Githaiga.

My thanks to #NetGalley and Bon Esprit Books for the ARC. This opinion/review is my own.

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I really enjoyed this audiobook! For a novel that spans 5 decades and 3 continents, it is surprisingly gripping and the author does a great job of bringing the settings to life. I loved all of the main characters but Ray's storyline was my favorite. The narrative perspective fills a gap in the historical fiction market about this time. Ndirangu Githaiga excellently highlights the challenges of being a woman in Kenya's mid-twentieth century and the challenges of life in the USA as an immigrant today. It also offers readers the opportunity to reflect on the true meanings of home and community. Great listen!

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I enjoyed this audiobook. The setting was very interesting. I have not read many books that take place in Africa. The atmosphere was well developed. I especially liked the main character, Wambũi, a young woman who shows exceptional ability in mathematics. Other storylines include her teacher and son; however, Wambũi is the star of this novel.
The son goes to the US to become a doctor, which is a little cliche. His experiences seemed very realistic. and I felt for him when he was inappropriately dressed for interviews and had no idea about the difficulty of being accepted for medical training. I also appreciated how one of the professors/mentoring physicians stood up for the interns. This was well-written.
I learned about Kenya and the culture from this book, which I always appreciate. The book is well researched.
The ending was lovely. I would like to read a second book about this phase of Wambũi's life.
I would read this author again.
Thanks to the publisher and NetGalley for an ARC of this audiobook in exchange for an unbiased review.

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Absolutely amazing read! Such a captivating read! Amazing cover art that was super eye catching would definitely recommend to all!

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I listened to the Audiobook version of this novel, and while I admit- I didn't love the narrator- I really enjoyed this book.
The novel begins in a critical time in Kenyan history- the 1950's with the Mau Mau rebellion- or as it is better known in Kenya- The Emergency -and takes us through to more current times. The main character Wanbui starts the novel attending a prestigious boarding school where everyone is required to go barefoot as not all girls had shoes- and ends texting her daughter -thousands of miles away- as she waits for an appointment at a university in Nairobi.
What is unique to this novel is that there are actually several main characters- Wambui - a young school girl at the time of the rebellion, her British ex-patriate teacher Eileen, and her son Raymond. Through the novel, there was a shifting focus between each character, but- just as I began to wonder what happened to one- a new chapter would pop up- updating me. It's a complex novel - spanning 5 decades and covering events in the US, Kenya and the UK. This book would be an excellent book club book or reading for students- there are many jumping off points for discussion of race, disability, history, healthcare, and gender issues.
Like many who picked up this book- I've worked in Africa for many years, never in Kenya- which was always a stop over point when I was working in South Sudan during their war. So I felt familiar with Kenya- and East Africa. The life scenarios and situations described seemed very accurate and I rather enjoyed reading exactly how Ray managed to exchange his MD training year - scheduled for a terrible location, for a more acceptable one. It reminded me of so many instances of getting on a timely flight, or explaining away a missing passport stamp were a matter of luck and who knew someone.
Somehow the author is able to make the stories of a mother and son, and a favorite teacher all come together - in three separate countries, and have so much meaning. Rich in detail- but not weighted down with excessive prose- the book really transported me to Kenya, and then to the cold streets of Chicago, and the damp gray of England, as I followed with interest the life choices of the three characters, and cheered as each successfully navigated their lives. Towards the end, I found myself wondering how the author would wrap it up- but- just like that- a satisfying conclusion!
Highly recommend this novel. Excellent choice for people interested in Africa, immigration, women's issues, and even healthcare in the US.

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**𝐀𝐬 𝐭𝐡𝐞 𝟏𝟗𝟓𝟎𝐬' 𝐌𝐚𝐮 𝐌𝐚𝐮 𝐰𝐚𝐫 𝐛𝐫𝐞𝐚𝐤𝐬 𝐨𝐮𝐭 𝐢𝐧 𝐭𝐡𝐞 𝐟𝐨𝐨𝐭𝐡𝐢𝐥𝐥𝐬 𝐨𝐟 𝐌𝐭. 𝐊𝐞𝐧𝐲𝐚, 𝐖𝐚𝐦𝐛ũ𝐢, 𝐚 𝟏𝟒-𝐲𝐞𝐚𝐫-𝐨𝐥𝐝 𝐠𝐢𝐫𝐥, 𝐥𝐞𝐚𝐯𝐞𝐬 𝐡𝐞𝐫 𝐛𝐞𝐬𝐢𝐞𝐠𝐞𝐝 𝐯𝐢𝐥𝐥𝐚𝐠𝐞 𝐭𝐨 𝐣𝐨𝐢𝐧 𝐚 𝐩𝐫𝐞𝐬𝐭𝐢𝐠𝐢𝐨𝐮𝐬 𝐛𝐨𝐚𝐫𝐝𝐢𝐧𝐠 𝐬𝐜𝐡𝐨𝐨𝐥, 𝐚 𝐡𝐚𝐥𝐟 𝐝𝐚𝐲’𝐬 𝐣𝐨𝐮𝐫𝐧𝐞𝐲 𝐚𝐰𝐚𝐲 𝐛𝐲 𝐭𝐫𝐚𝐢𝐧. 𝐓𝐡𝐞𝐫𝐞, 𝐬𝐡𝐞 𝐛𝐞𝐜𝐨𝐦𝐞𝐬 𝐚𝐰𝐚𝐫𝐞 𝐨𝐟 𝐡𝐞𝐫 𝐞𝐱𝐭𝐫𝐚𝐨𝐫𝐝𝐢𝐧𝐚𝐫𝐲 𝐦𝐚𝐭𝐡𝐞𝐦𝐚𝐭𝐢𝐜𝐚𝐥 𝐚𝐛𝐢𝐥𝐢𝐭𝐢𝐞𝐬 𝐝𝐢𝐬𝐜𝐨𝐯𝐞𝐫𝐞𝐝 𝐛𝐲 𝐡𝐞𝐫 𝐭𝐞𝐚𝐜𝐡𝐞𝐫 𝐄𝐢𝐥𝐞𝐞𝐧 𝐀𝐭𝐰𝐨𝐨𝐝.

𝐈𝐧𝐢𝐭𝐢𝐚𝐥𝐥𝐲, 𝐖𝐚𝐦𝐛ũ𝐢 𝐯𝐢𝐞𝐰𝐬 𝐄𝐢𝐥𝐞𝐞𝐧’𝐬 𝐚𝐭𝐭𝐞𝐧𝐭𝐢𝐨𝐧𝐬 𝐰𝐢𝐭𝐡 𝐬𝐮𝐬𝐩𝐢𝐜𝐢𝐨𝐧 𝐚𝐧𝐝 𝐡𝐨𝐬𝐭𝐢𝐥𝐢𝐭𝐲, 𝐛𝐮𝐭 𝐨𝐯𝐞𝐫 𝐭𝐢𝐦𝐞, 𝐭𝐡𝐞 𝐭𝐰𝐨 𝐠𝐫𝐨𝐰 𝐜𝐥𝐨𝐬𝐞 𝐚𝐧𝐝 𝐟𝐨𝐫𝐦 𝐚 𝐥𝐢𝐟𝐞𝐥𝐨𝐧𝐠 𝐟𝐫𝐢𝐞𝐧𝐝𝐬𝐡𝐢𝐩. 𝐔𝐧𝐟𝐨𝐫𝐭𝐮𝐧𝐚𝐭𝐞𝐥𝐲 𝐟𝐨𝐫 𝐖𝐚𝐦𝐛ũ𝐢, 𝐭𝐡𝐞 𝐦𝐢𝐝-𝟐𝟎𝐭𝐡 𝐜𝐞𝐧𝐭𝐮𝐫𝐲 𝐢𝐬𝐧’𝐭 𝐫𝐞𝐚𝐝𝐲 𝐟𝐨𝐫 𝐚 𝐟𝐞𝐦𝐚𝐥𝐞 𝐦𝐚𝐭𝐡 𝐩𝐫𝐨𝐝𝐢𝐠𝐲, 𝐩𝐚𝐫𝐭𝐢𝐜𝐮𝐥𝐚𝐫𝐥𝐲 𝐢𝐧 𝐊𝐞𝐧𝐲𝐚. 𝐁𝐮𝐭 𝐬𝐡𝐞 𝐪𝐮𝐢𝐞𝐭𝐥𝐲 𝐚𝐧𝐝 𝐝𝐞𝐟𝐢𝐚𝐧𝐭𝐥𝐲 𝐭𝐚𝐤𝐞𝐬 𝐨𝐧 𝐭𝐡𝐞 𝐨𝐛𝐬𝐭𝐚𝐜𝐥𝐞𝐬 𝐬𝐞𝐞𝐤𝐢𝐧𝐠 𝐭𝐨 𝐝𝐞𝐟𝐢𝐧𝐞 𝐡𝐞𝐫, 𝐚𝐩𝐩𝐥𝐲𝐢𝐧𝐠 𝐡𝐞𝐫 𝐮𝐧𝐮𝐬𝐮𝐚𝐥 𝐠𝐢𝐟𝐭𝐬 𝐢𝐧 𝐧𝐞𝐰 𝐝𝐢𝐫𝐞𝐜𝐭𝐢𝐨𝐧𝐬, 𝐰𝐡𝐢𝐜𝐡 𝐮𝐥𝐭𝐢𝐦𝐚𝐭𝐞𝐥𝐲 𝐛𝐞𝐧𝐞𝐟𝐢𝐭𝐬 𝐡𝐞𝐫 𝐢𝐦𝐩𝐨𝐯𝐞𝐫𝐢𝐬𝐡𝐞𝐝 𝐟𝐚𝐦𝐢𝐥𝐲 𝐚𝐧𝐝 𝐢𝐧𝐬𝐩𝐢𝐫𝐞𝐬 𝐡𝐞𝐫 𝐬𝐢𝐛𝐥𝐢𝐧𝐠𝐬 𝐚𝐧𝐝 𝐭𝐡𝐞𝐢𝐫 𝐜𝐡𝐢𝐥𝐝𝐫𝐞𝐧 𝐭𝐨 𝐩𝐮𝐫𝐬𝐮𝐞 𝐭𝐡𝐞𝐢𝐫 𝐨𝐰𝐧 𝐝𝐫𝐞𝐚𝐦𝐬.**

When I say I need a sweeping story that spans over generations...this is what I mean!!!
Such an epic family saga where each character's story is so intricate even though they are interwoven with one another.

The narrative voice of this story was bloody beautiful...there was a softness and warmth to it that we saw reflected in so many of the connections made between the characters.

I wish I could put my finger on what exactly made this such an easy and enjoyable read- maybe it was the historical and sociopolitical aspects being explored from such a humane and emotional POV? Perhaps it was the believability of the story? Perhaps it was the vivid imagery that transports the reader... I don't know but it gets a high star rating from me! (I actually went into it expecting to be a bit bored and to have to force my way through it, so coming out the other end, I wonder why more people aren't talking about it)

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