The Camel Bookmobile by Masha Hamilton, 309 pages
What an Animal! challenge; Kenya around the world
(review is an homage to bookfool)
Is this a boring old nonfiction account of bringing books to the outskirts of Kenya?
No, not at all. I wasn't sure what I thought this would be about, but it wasn't boring at all. Hamilton based the novel on a true event of bringing literacy on camels to the rural areas of Kenya, but the story is really about the people and the relationships during a short time period.
What book did this remind you of?
The Number One Ladies Detective Agency has the same sort of feel, of way of life in Africa, of feeling like not much happens, when there is so much below the surface. In some ways, not much happens: a bookmobile that visits a nomadic community returns to find 2 books have been lost. The community needs to find the books for several reasons. But the relationships, motives, and behaviors of the characters are so much more than they seem.
Who are the characters?
The American, the Librarian, the Teacher, the Girl, the Grandmother, the Teacher's Wife, the Drum Maker, and Scar Boy. Each chapter is named for one of the characters, but it is all told in third person. I was surprised at how quickly each character came to life with a whole back story, with hopes and thoughts and decisions. Not all are likable, but like people everywhere, they have their reasons.
Not a happily ever after ending, but certainly realistic.
Where did you hear of this book?
I wish I could remember the person, but it was online. Somebody wrote a review last year and it was the first I'd heard of it and it sounded wonderful. I ordered it and then looked at it on my shelf for far too long.
Big lessons or themes?
Change is difficult, the constant battle between old customs and new ideas, progress versus tradition, finding love, looking for adventure, the importance of literacy and learning.
Who would like this book?
People interested in learning more about African culture, books about books, and slow-paced, character driven books.
Did you say this review had something to do with bookfool?
I thought I could mimic her humorous, self-questioning book review style, but I added no humor and could hardly come up with any questions. I have even more admiration for her great reivews now. Maybe I don't talk to myself as much as I thought I did? Or I am not as interesting as I thought I was?
also reviewed by Robin and Alison