Thursday, October 26, 2017

The Atlas of Forgotten Places

The Atlas of Forgotten Places by Jenny D. Williams, 361 pages

When idealistic aid worker Lily suddenly goes missing in Uganda, her aunt Sabine must travel to a region beset by civil war in attempt to track her down. At the same time, Rose, an Acholi woman living in Uganda, is working as a translator for a Swiss anthropologist when her boyfriend, Ocen, also disappears. These two searches eventually combine, leading Rose, Sabine, and Christoph (the Swiss anthropologist) on a dangerous trek that forces them all to confront their pasts and their assumptions of the present.

When I first picked up this book, I was afraid it would be incredibly depressing, bloody, and bleak — after all, it is set against the backdrop of the very real Operation Lightning Thunder, a 2008 bombing initiative against the Lord's Resistance Army that failed massively (it led to the deaths of nearly 900 civilians). Instead, the book strikes a more hopeful tone, illuminating the universality of loss while still respecting the horrific experiences of those who live near conflict. I ended up really enjoying this book.

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