I read only two books in June and both of them were novels! This has been a busy summer for me so I haven't had the mental energy to read more than novels.
So, the first book I read was called Quentins by Maeve Binchey. Maeve Binchey is an excellent story-teller and she's a prolific author, but I don't read her books that often. Of the ones I've read, this probably wasn't my favorite. The basic story line was good, but even that was kind of sad since it was based on an affair the main protagonist was having. Thankfully Ms. Binchey didn't have steamy sex scenes. The thing that really kind of annoyed me about the book, though, was that there were stories within the story and that kind of annoyed me because it was hard to make the mental switch, reminding myself, "OK, now, different characters, we're not in the main story any more."
The second was called The Garden of Burning Sand by Corban Addison, which I liked a lot more. I have both good and bad things to say about this book. And whether you end up liking the book or not, it will make you think.
Zoe is a young American lawyer working with a Zambian NGO devoted to combating child sexual assault. She works with a team of Zambians to work for justice for a young girl with Downs Syndrome who has been raped. All evidence points to the rape having been carried out by the son of one of the wealthiest and most powerful men in Zambia. And as the book goes on, the reasons for the rape become more clear.
I liked this book because it was well-written, kept me involved in the story, and showed the complexity of life in Zambia. The love story is tame and thankfully there aren't any steamy sex scenes. Likewise the violence of the rape and the demeaning of women through prostitution is necessarily there, but it's not graphic. This is a book you could let your older teens read.
Some things I didn't like were: 1. A rich American assuming she can save the world. Thankfully this was balanced by the team of extremely competent Zambians she worked with. 2. Painting Africa in very stereotypical ways (but then stereotypes come from frequent observations, so there is perhaps a grain of truth): corrupted powerful people, witchcraft controlling life, more problems than good things happening, westerners as rich, etc. 3. I'm not sure the answer to justice in the world is best provided by western governments.....but at least the author gives you something to think about. How do we get involved without acting like the saviors of the world? 4. The book has some anachronisms, such as I've never heard anybody here in West Africa use the term "SUV". Maybe they do in Southern Africa, but it seemed like an Americanism being used in an African setting. 5. Simplistic solutions to Africa's problems and to America's involvement in those problems. 6. They risk life to get Anna's story and then she never appears in court???
That said, I would still recommend reading this book.