October 6, 2009

An Electric Memoir

I'm always on the lookout for a good page-turner. Fiction/non-fiction, classic/not-so-classic (oh, Patricia Cornwell, my guilty pleasure), mystery/romance, biography/non-biography, even a bit of self-help on occasion. I like them all.

Over the years, I've also read some pretty terrific memoirs: “The Glass Castle” and “Angela’s Ashes" are two of my all-time favorites. I’m hoping a new book called “The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind” will soon join them on the list.

The book tells the modern-day story of William Kamkwamba, a 14-year old Malawian boy who despite incredible odds - surviving the worst famine his country had seen in 50 years and being forced to drop out of school because his family couldn’t afford the $80 yearly tuition - went on to build a makeshift windmill that brought electricity (and eventually water) to his poverty-stricken village. (A windmill! I can barely make coffee.)

Electricity allowed the villagers to read at night after work. And water allowed them to grow two crops a year rather than one, without spending two hours a day hauling it. The windmill was truly life-changing for everyone involved.

“The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind” is a tale of hope, determination and good old-fashioned perseverance. And, above all, it demonstrates that one individual really can make a difference. Good for you, William K.

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