Wednesday, August 25, 2010

The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind by William Kamkwamba & Bryan Mealer

The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind:
Creating Currents of Electricity and Hope
By William Kamkwamba & Bryan Mealer
Copyright 2010
320 pages

If this paragraph remains at the top of the post, please return for a full review, next week -- Wednesday, September 1 (my birthday -- no, no need to lavish me with gifts). I am experiencing technical difficulty and posting this portion in advance, just in case.

At this point, I'm about 35 pages into The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind and enjoying it.

A description copied from Amazon:

American readers will have their imaginations challenged by 14-year-old Kamkwamba's description of life in Malawi, a famine-stricken, land-locked nation in southern Africa: math is taught in school with the aid of bottle tops ("three Coca-Cola plus ten Carlsberg equal thirteen"), people are slaughtered by enemy warriors "disguised... as green grass" and a ferocious black rhino; and everyday trading is "replaced by the business of survival" after famine hits the country. After starving for five months on his family's small farm, the corn harvest slowly brings Kamkwamba back to life. Witnessing his family's struggle, Kamkwamba's supercharged curiosity leads him to pursue the improbable dream of using "electric wind"(they have no word for windmills) to harness energy for the farm. Kamkwamba's efforts were of course derided; salvaging a motley collection of materials, from his father's broken bike to his mother's clothes line, he was often greeted to the tune of "Ah, look, the madman has come with his garbage." This exquisite tale strips life down to its barest essentials, and once there finds reason for hopes and dreams, and is especially resonant for Americans given the economy and increasingly heated debates over health care and energy policy.

The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind begins with stories about the author, Kamkwamba's, early creative experiences, making trucks from available boxes with bottle caps for wheels and other toys via the creative use of spare parts. He tells stories of what life was like growing up in Malawi and the beliefs of many of the locals in magic versus his own father's trust in God. I'm still knee-deep in background material, so all I can tell you is that the writing is clear and at this point is providing a fascinating glimpse into another culture and lifestyle. I'm particularly fond of the legends he's sharing. I love reading legends.

If I'm unable to fix this post, I'll also be unable to approve comments. Please be patient with me! I shall return. My thanks to TLC Books for the review copy of The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind and apologies for the posting delay.


  1. No worries! Hope everything is back up and running smoothly soon. I look forward to reading your final thoughts on the book. :)

  2. Heather,

    All is well. I simply had strictly limited access, last week (like . . . 15 minutes a day) so I couldn't post anything. Good thing I pre-posted this much! I'm almost done with the book and it's great. :)


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