Burn My Heart
Beverley Naidoo
HarperCollins (2009)
ISBN 9780061432972
Reviewed by Dylan James (age 13) for Reader Views (10/09)

 

In “Burn My Heart” by Beverley Naidoo, Mugo and Matthew are best friends in a dangerous and scary time.  The Mau Mau, a black gang determined to fight to take their lands from the whites or die trying, are making a white village wary.  As the Mau Mau kill and rob more whites, the police retaliate by capturing and killing blacks with flimsy or non-existent evidence.  Mugo is a black boy serving in a white household, and Matthew is the homeowner’s son.  Mugo’s father is a long-time friend of Matthew’s father, but as with Matthew and Mugo, gaps grow and suspicions arise.  Will friendships hold?  Or will prejudice take its toll and destroy even the strongest relationships?

“Burn My Heart” deals with racial discrimination and a friendship between two little boys of different color.  This book brought some interesting themes to my mind:  prejudice, pride, and honor.  Mugo’s dad works hard to do his best, to keep his honor as a worker.  Matthew’s pride keeps him from telling his dad that it was not Mugo’s family who started the fire.  The police, Matthew’s dad, and the rest of the white world let prejudice dictate their actions.

This was easy vocabulary, but the themes will be hard to understand unless the reader is older than age 12.  Both boys and girls should like this book equally, although I think boys might understand Matthew’s actions better.  The writing flows and manages to talk about history and true facts while entertaining me with all the action of an adventure!  “Burn My Heart” by Beverley Naidoo is a good book.

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