For: Middle Grades
Harper Collins, 2005
A good story with a few minor complaints
Rachel Sheridan is a 13-year old white girl living in East Africa, near Mt. Kenya, in 1919. Her missionary parents have begun a hospital and church in Tumaini, among the Kikuyu and Masai tribes, somewhere outside of Nairobi.
Rachel's story is told in three parts. Both her parents die of the influenza, along with many indigenous people, and she is sent by a notoriously greedy British couple to England to impersonate their dead daughter. She reluctantly does this, but fears imprisonment if she doesn't comply. The second part is told when she is in England, pretending she is Valerie Pritchard, and becoming close with Valerie's rich grandfather, who is housebound and a bird-lover, like Rachel. Their third part is the one that includes too much passing of time. A fourth part should have been included, because Rachel goes from 13 or 14 to 23 and returns to Africa. The last 8-10 years should have been told in its own "part."
Well, anyways, Rachel returns to Africa to rebuild the hospital that her parents had begun. It really is a good story, with quite a bit of information about the customs and animals of British East Africa.
I loved Gloria Whelan's Homeless Bird - it's still one of my favorites. This story is a good one, too...I just wish the end had not been so rushed, or globbed together after such good story-telling in the first seven-eighths of the book!