It's October, which means rainy afternoons in Naivasha, the 9-months-post-Christmas baby boom wreaking havoc in the hospital in full swing, Julia's birthday tomorrow, Rugby for Jack and snow for Caleb and trauma rotations for Luke . . . and for me, the fourth and final Rwendigo Tale being published this week. (Link to New Growth Press here where it is on SALE, Link to Amazon here).
My favorite reviewer comment so far: don't start this one right before bed.
As I wrote these four books, my kids moved from age 7-12 to age 10-15. The stories move from a magical-realism talking-animals kingdom quest to a more action-drama mystery young adult flavor. Though each one stands alone, the characters are loosely related and the storyline does connect. This final volume was written a few months after we survived an Ebola epidemic in Bundibugyo. It is being published in the midst of another Ebola epidemic, that is creeping closer and closer to our teams in Nyankunde and Bundibugyo. Our confusion, terror, sorrow, and soul-searching in 2007-8 informed the process these characters take in resisting evil; and are very much relevant to our daily work in 2018. After the 2007-8 epidemic, we were given a 3-week leave to stay in a very simple, open, thatch-roofed house on the coast of Zanzibar as part of our recovery process, and I started writing this book during that short sabbatical. The rhythm of the coast provides the setting for the first half of the book.
Each of the books was written with one particular kid in mind. Three have male main characters and one a female, because that's our family, though there are key male and female roles in each. They aren't about any real person, but the personality of each kid comes into the stories, the sibling relationships, the pets, etc. This last book is dedicated to Luke, who ten years ago was a young teen. In the decade since, he put a hand-written note on his wall for a while that says "I will sacrifice for those I love." And that pretty much sums up this book. It's a story of choices, courage, the way the struggle against evil requires real risks, the difficulty of a path that leads to sacrifice, the tenderness of friendship and empathy, the mystery of forces beyond our sight and control.
I don't want to give more than that away, you have to read the book to find out what happens. You can be sure that the setting immerses you in a fictional universe where almost all characters are authentic East-Africans. You can expect the usual vocabulary, both English at a level that is middle and high school appropriately stretching, and terms that give flavor from other languages. You can expect some hard majority-world topics to surface (loss of parents, corruption, danger) in a way that honors the reality that most kids must live, but also points to the resilience and hope that is possible to grasp.
Please consider buying a few for your kids, your friends, your relatives, your library, your youth group or church. I have been swamped by life and am pretty much out of marketing ideas, and NGP the publisher has little reach outside their usual church-based audience. If blog readers averaged ten copies . . we'd be set (I know that's not realistic, but buying a few and promoting others to buy a few . . you never know). You can also help me a LOT if you post a review on Amazon, Google, or elsewhere after you read it. You can feel good about this investment because: books are the best gifts that keep giving, and the author portion is split equally between me and a Rwendigo Fund that can be used for blessing actual people in real-life Rwendigo-like places.
Since I'm in Kenya, I haven't actually seen or held a copy yet . . . so I have no photo to post. Instead I'll post one of a Serge kid whose expression perfectly matches how I feel about this book coming out, and about books in general (photo thanks to his mom Brooke West, used by permission).
So you can do your Christmas shopping now, though you probably won't want to wait that long to read your own copy! Enjoy and ponder and let me know what you think.