Mama Africa by Kathryn Erskine


Originally published in: 2017

What it’s about: Miriam Makeba, a South African musician who used her music to tell the story of apartheid to the rest of the world and request their aid.

What made me pick it up: I was checking out the Wikipedia pages of some local authors and found out Erskine had put out a picture book about Africa. Win win.

My favorite parts: Once again a picture book for young children teaches me about history I never knew. Erskine lived in South Africa when she was younger and always wanted to tell this story. I have read many stories about apartheid but not heard this one. I appreciated having the history fleshed out and learning about a musician who used her gift to not only get out of deteriorating South Africa but ask for help from everyone she could. Truly powerful and inspiring.

Who it’s great for: Anyone interested in the history of Africa, South Africa, apartheid, or music. 

Erica’s rating: three shells

Find this book in your local library or on Amazon (affiliate link).


The Strength in What Remains by Tracy Kidder


Originally published in: 2009

What it’s about: A man who survives the genocide in Burundi between Hutus and Tutsis (similar to the more publicized one in Rwanda) finds his way to America where he begins to make a new life.

What made me pick it up: After writing my review of Kidder’s most recent book, I realized I hadn’t read this one.

My favorite things: Like I’ve said before, Kidder has a strong ability to present his subjects as if you were at a dinner with them. It makes you feel included in the circle and that much more interested in their story.

Who it’s great for: Adults. Older teens. Anyone who has an interest in Africa and its recent history — especially Hotel Rwanda fans. Those with a strong stomach. People looking for a story that is ultimately about hope.

Erica’s rating: three-shells

Born a Crime by Trevor Noah


Originally published in: 2016

What it’s about: Newly minted The Daily Show host Noah recounts his childhood in South Africa just as apartheid ended.

What made me pick it up: I’m a huge fan of Noah. I’ve watched his stand up and enjoyed immensely his new hosting duties. He shares many key features with former host Jon Stewart – a quick wit and a wide understanding among them.

My favorite things: This was a great tale well told about Noah but the best bits were actually the inter-chapter focus pieces on apartheid. I really liked how he wove them in so seamlessly. He reads his own books, so the audio is equally great.

Who it’s great for: Noah fans. Daily Show fans. Anyone who has a strong interest in Africa or apartheid. Those looking for a great, quick, memorable memoir.

Erica’s rating: four-shells

Get a copy of this book on Amazon (affiliate link) or at your local library.