We start the story following Wambũi and her life as a teen. When she goes to a boarding school, things change for the better for her. The act of going to this school is elite, and it sets her apart from her peers. We meet one of her teachers, Eileen, whose passion has always been to travel to Kenya and one day teach. The story weaves back and forth between their lives through the years.
Like Eileen, it has always been my not-so-secret dream to visit Kenya, and from the first page of reading this, Githaiga transports the reader with vivid imagery. We become immersed in Kenya, the climate, the corruption, and the changes that happen through the years. The People of Ostrich Mountain is beautifully written. It’s immersive and stunning and one of my most favorite reads this year.
The People of Ostrich Mountain is available on Amazon for $4.99, it’s enrolled in KU.
About the Book:
As the 1950s Mau Mau war breaks out in the foothills of Mt. Kenya, Wambũi, a fourteen-year-old girl leaves her besieged village to join a prestigious boarding school a half day’s journey away by train. There, she becomes aware of her extraordinary mathematical abilities discovered by her teacher, Eileen Atwood. Initially, Wambũi views Eileen’s attentions with suspicion and hostility, but over time, the two grow close and form a lifelong friendship.
Unfortunately for Wambũi, the mid-twentieth century isn’t ready for a female math prodigy, particularly in Kenya. But she quietly and defiantly takes on the obstacles seeking to define her, applying her unusual gifts in new directions, which ultimately benefits her impoverished family and inspires her siblings and their children to pursue their own dreams.
After forty years in Kenya, Eileen unexpectedly loses her employment authorization and is forced to return to England, where she struggles to adjust to living in a country she barely recognizes. Meanwhile, Wambũi’s son, Ray, a doctor, navigates a fraught visa application process and travels to America to begin residency training; however, his hospital becomes insolvent and shuts down a year later. He and his colleagues are assimilated into other programs where, as foreign-born physicians, they endure relentless prejudice. As a black man, he also discovers that the streets of Chicago are sometimes quick to judge, with serious consequences.
A saga of family and friendship spanning five decades and three continents, ‘The People of Ostrich Mountain’ chronicles the interconnected lives of three outsiders as they navigate the vagaries of race, gender and immigration.