CM . . . . Volume XVII Number 7. . . .October 15, 2010.
Beverly Hills Maasai.
Toronto, ON: Doubleday Canada, 2010.
248 pp., pbk., $14.95.
Grades 7-11 /Ages 12-16.
Review by Tanya Boudreau.
“I just don’t understand,” Olivia said. “If they want water, why don’t they just turn on the tap?”
I swerved the car slightly as I turned to face her.
“Don’t you remember anything I told you about my trip to Kenya?” I demanded.
“I remember things.”
“Do you remember that the Maasai all live in mud huts?”
“Of course. I’m not an idiot, you know.”
Sometimes I wasn’t sure about that.
“I just assumed,” Olivia said, “that the huts had running water.”
“They do have running water.”
She gave me a smug look.
“They have running water, if you consider that they have to run a mile or so to get it.”
They have killed lions and walked 300 miles in tire-tread sandals, but can three teenagers from Kenya win a marathon aimed at wealthy and more experienced runners? In this sequel to Alexandria of Africa (2008), reformed 16-year-old shoplifter Alexandria reunites with her new friend Nebala. But this time, the reunion comes as a surprise and happens at her family’s California mansion. Nabala arrives from Kenya with his shield and his two Maasai warrior friends, and Nebala’s mind is on one thing; winning the first annual Beverly Hills marathon. Having sold his cows for airfare, he is running for the prize money that will help him build a much needed well for his village. In this fast-paced book, cultures clash on the streets of downtown Beverly Hills and in Alexandria’s own backyard. Humorous at times, as Nebala and his friends encounter a pool, a convertible, yoga positions, sneakers, pet cats, and a divorced woman for the first time, Eric Walters’ latest young adult novel also brings awareness about Kenya’s culture and those who live with less. Tension builds as Alexandria figures out a way to register her friends for the marathon despite their lack of paperwork, acceptable currency, and a confrontation with a narrow-minded registration desk employee. The hurdles continue during the race. Placed at the very end of the line, Nebala, Samuel, and Koyati must pass thousands of faster runners to get to the front of the pack. But thanks to a new website devoted to Nebala’s cause (developed my Alexandria’s talented mom), the cheering crowd grows in number and focus as the tired but determined friends continue to pass the best runners and steal the spotlight. A crash during the end of the run completely turns around the outcome of the race, but with some help, Nebala is able to go home keeping his promises. Alexandria’s materialistic attitude and rude behavior is jarring and doesn’t change very much throughout the book, but her heart is in the right place.
Award-winning author Eric Walters has written many books for young adults including Wave, Wounded, and United We Stand. He lives in Ontario.
Tanya Boudreau is a librarian at the Cold Lake Public Library in Cold Lake, AB.
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Copyright © the Manitoba Library Association. Reproduction for personal use is permitted only if this copyright notice is maintained. Any other reproduction is prohibited without permission.
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