Strength in What Remains
Non-Fiction | Biography
A young man arrives in the big city with two hundred dollars in his pocket, no English at all, and memories of horror so fresh that he sometimes confuses past and present. When Deo first told me about his beginning in New York, I had a simple thought: “I would not have survived.” And then, two years later, he enrolls in an Ivy League university. How did this happen? Where did he find the strength, and how had he won the beneficence of strangers? How had it felt to be him?
A friend lent this book to me, and I could absolutely see why she loved it. She’s one of my college friends, who went on to become a lawyer, defending immigrant youth on the brink of deportation. She’s insanely intelligent and hard-working, possesses a level of integrity that few achieve, and fights tooth and nail for social justice. So it’s evident why Deo’s refugee story of him escaping genocide and successfully rebuilding his life in the US would strike a cord with my friend. His story is her life’s work.
I wanted to love this book, but I had a hard time connecting with it. Kidder’s style was journalistic, so lacked some of the more emotional writing that I’m drawn to. I wanted to know more about Deo’s thoughts and feelings, rather than just the facts of his refugee experience.
That said, Deo’s story, in and of itself, is both horrific and inspiring. “Strength In What Remains” gave a voice to those who suffered through the genocides in Rwanda and Burundi, and gave light to the struggles refugees face to only survive. And the book itself did get some great reviews from those that are actually qualified to give their literary opinions. The writing style just wasn’t for me.
Worth a read? Sure. Recommended for those that like a journalistic writing style, are looking for a cerebral read, like to find inspiration in others’ success, or want to know more about the Rwandan/Burundian genocides.