Literary Quote of the Month

"A reader lives a thousand lives before he dies," said Jojen. "The man who never reads lives only one." - George R.R. Martin, A Dance With Dragons

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind... A TLC Blog Tour & Review

"Trust Yourself and Believe, Whatever Happens Don't Give Up..."
...William Kamkwamba

The simple act of turning on a light switch... opening a refrigerator full of food... going to school... These are all things most of us take for granted, but in William Kamkwamba's life these things were luxuries. Surviving famine, cholera and political treachery, William Kamkwamba shares his heartwrenching story of life in Malawi, "a country where magic rules and modern science was mystery."

I had seen
William Kamkwamba on television being interviewed about his windmill. I was fascinated. How a small boy with a curiosity in how things worked was able to help bring electricity to his village was amazing. What I didn't know until I read the book The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind, written by William Kamkwamba and Bryan Mealer, was how far William had to travel, not by miles but by the determination to live & have a more stable life, before he could make his idea a reality. In this emotionally charged story, William Kamkwamba is "The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind". He was born into a family of poor farmers in a rural African village, with 6 siblings and the realities of a harsh African life, which included no electricity, or any other modern convenience, and living under a corrupt government that would rather see big profits than help the many small farmers that populated the country. Their livelihoods were wrapped up in the ability to grow their crops. They had to work around rainy seasons, dry spells and make the hard soil work for them. Then famine broke out, food became scarce, and people struggled to survive. Because of the famine, William had to drop out of school because his parents could no longer afford to send him. Though, he still had access to the library and used his time to keep his studies up. That library contained books on Physics and electricity donated by The American Institutes for Research. At the age of 14, with very little education, and not a very good grasp of English, William was inspired by the pictures in a book on windmills to see if he could build his own. A windmill could make electricity and bring water for irrigation. This could help not only his family, but his whole village...

The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind will pull you in. It's a story of desperation and loss, but as the story continues, uplifting. The beginning of the book really opens your eyes to the harsh realities of the life of an African farmer. But you also get a sense of a simpler life, one filled with magic and storytelling handed down from one generation to the next. I got a sense of community among the people of the village, even though they had very little, people tried to help one another with what they had. As you learn more about William and day to day life in his village, you begin to see what a special young man he is. Of course the villagers thought he was crazy, going through the scrap yard looking for pieces of this and that to "build a windmill". We all know the ending- he did make his windmill, and The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind is that story. There's also a wonderful "P.S." at the end of the book, an "afterwards" story entitled A Great Adventure that recounts some of the things that went on after the book was published. One of the wonderful things William mentions is meeting Dr. Mary Atwater, the woman who wrote Using Energy, the book that first inspired William to build his windmill. Dr. Atwater was "a black person in the American South during the 1950's, and she didn't have many great educational opportunities. It didn't help that she was also a girl, and a girl who loved science." But Dr. Atwater's dream came true through education, and she was "happy that I lived long enough to see that something I wrote could change someone's life."

William Kamkwamba will touch your heart. I felt such happiness when he was able to bring his dream to reality and help his village. But it doesn't stop there, because with worldwide attention, he's now helping to build schools and bring education into the communities of Africa. This is one very special story that will make you thankful for the bounty that you have, but also inspire you to follow your dreams, and to try and help others attain theirs. I would encourage anyone who enjoys inspirational stories to pick up this book. It's one story you won't forget.

Check out William Kamkwamba's Blog to learn more about him and his nonprofit organization Moving Windmills. I want to Thank Trish from TLC Tours for sending along a copy of The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind for review! William Kamkwamba and Bryan Mealer will be touring the blogs with their book until the end of August, here are the other stops on the tour!

And in the meantime, here is a video of William talking about "How he harnessed the wind"...


trish said...

I got boosebumps reading this! It sounds like a really amazing book -- inspiring, even. I'm reading Cutting for Stone right now, and it gives you a glimpse into a poor African hospital. Really eye opening!

Thanks for being on this tour! I love the passion that comes through in your review!

Suzanne Yester said...

Hi Trish!
Thanks so much! I tear up every time I think about William and his windmill, it is an amazing story!

debbie said...

I saw his interview on the daily show with jon stewart. It was just amazing.

Suzanne Yester said...

Hi Debbie,
William Kambwamba talks about that interview in the afterward. People had warned him that Jon Stewart had a sarcastic sense of humor and he shouldn't be offended by anything he said, but William decided he would joke around with him and really enjoyed himself.

Julie P said...

This sounds like a heartwarming, emotional read. I am looking forward to getting my own copy!

carla said...

Goes to show we shouldn't be afraid to do something, we should just go ahead and try.
William is very inspiring.

Suzanne Yester said...

Hi Julie,
Yes, a very emotional read. There were some spots that were hard to get through if you're an animal lover (like selling the family goat for food), but it just brings home the message even more of how devastating the circumstances were and what a positive impact technology has given these farmers and people of the village.

Suzanne Yester said...

Hi Carla,
William is inspiring. To be laughed at and called crazy at such a young age and NOT buckling under to the pressures of fitting in basically saved him.

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