10 books like Over a Thousand Hills I Walk With You

By Hanna Jansen,

Here are 10 books that authors have personally recommended if you like Over a Thousand Hills I Walk With You. Shepherd is a community of 7,000+ authors sharing their favorite books with the world.

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Letters from Rifka

By Karen Hesse,

Book cover of Letters from Rifka

Letters from Rifka is immediately appealing because the author tells us that it is based on memories.

I was immediately drawn into the story by the engaging voice of the 12-year-old narrator, who writes her story in letter form. Rifka is a Russian Jew fleeing with her family from persecution in 1919. It is a story of a desperate flight, across Ukraine and into Poland, and from there, hopefully, to America. But, so close to freedom, Rifka is detained in a hospital for contagious diseases on Ellis Island, and may not be allowed to travel on with her family. Rifka’s character is so well drawn, her impish, positive voice so lovable, that MG readers won’t fail to love this book and care deeply about the plight of people who are forced to leave their homes forever.

Letters from Rifka

By Karen Hesse,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked Letters from Rifka as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

From Newbery media winner Karen Hesse comes an unforgettable story of an immigrant family's journey to America.

"America," the girl repeated. "What will you do there?"
I was silent for a little time.
"I will do everything there," I answered.

Rifka knows nothing about America when she flees from Russia with her family in 1919. But she dreams that in the new country she will at last be safe from the Russian soldiers and their harsh treatment of the Jews. Throughout her journey, Rifka carries with her a cherished volume of poetry by Alexander Pushkin. In it, she records her…


The Crossing

By Manjeet Mann,

Book cover of The Crossing

The Crossing really moved me. It’s an unforgettable story of two young people who suffer extreme trauma and struggle to find their way to a better future. Nat is in England, her mother has died, and in her honour Nat sets herself the task of raising money for refugees by swimming the Channel. Sammy, in Eritrea, has witnessed the political murder of his father and is soon to be drafted into the army, where he knows he will be tortured. I love the way the author weaves their first-person stories together, till we feel the two must meet. Sammy’s desperate journey, with its horrors, hunger, despair, and unimaginable hardship, is particularly graphically told.

I found this story of bravery shocking and frightening, but not without hope.

The Crossing

By Manjeet Mann,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Crossing as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Powerful, compassionate and ultimately hopeful. Observer

WINNER OF THE COSTA CHILDREN'S BOOK AWARD 2021 and the Sunday Times Children's Book of the Week - a trailblazing novel about two teenagers from opposite worlds; The Crossing is a profound story of hope, grief, and the very real tragedies of the refugee crisis.

The sea carries our pain. The stars carry our future.

Natalie's world is falling apart. She's just lost her mum and her brother marches the streets of Dover full of hate and anger. Swimming is her only refuge.

Sammy has fled his home and family in Eritrea for the…


Kiss the Dust

By Elizabeth Laird,

Book cover of Kiss the Dust

13 year old Tara is a Kurd living in Iraq. Overnight her world is turned upside down as her people are under bombardment from the government of Saddam Hussein and she has to flee for her life. It is 1970. Tara and her mother and little sister Hero and brother make a difficult, dangerous overnight journey across the mountains into Iran, but even there their lives are in danger. They have no idea what has happened to Tara’s father and brother, or if they will ever see them again.

I knew little about the Kurds until I read this book. Laird’s sympathetic and well-researched novel took me into the heart of these people who have no homeland, this family, and this teenaged war refugee.

Kiss the Dust

By Elizabeth Laird,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Kiss the Dust as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Tara is an ordinary teenager. Although her country, Kurdistan, is caught up in a war, the fighting seems far away. It hasn't really touched her. Until now. The secret police are closing in. Tara and her family must flee to the mountains with only the few things they can carry. It is a hard and dangerous journey - but their struggles have only just begun. Will anywhere feel like home again?


La Linea

By Ann Jaramillo,

Book cover of La Linea

I really enjoyed this Y/A novel about 15-year-old Miguel and his journey across Mexico. His goal is to reach the border in the north of the country, and from there to cross to a better life, freedom from poverty and hunger, hope. The early scenes as he is preparing to leave his beloved grandmother and his friends behind are poignant and touching. Miguel’s character is extremely well-drawn. His descriptions of his country life and his attitude towards his sister 13-year-old Elena, who longs to go with him, endear the reader to this desperate and courageous boy. Imagine his feelings when he realises that Elena has disguised herself and is following him!  The frustrations, dangers, and fears the siblings experience on their journey North make exciting and absorbing reading.

La Linea

By Ann Jaramillo,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked La Linea as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Over a decade since its publication, Ann Jaramillo's heartbreaking middle grade novel La Linea—about crossing the Mexican border into the US—is more timely than ever.

Miguel has dreamed of joining his parents in California since the day they left him behind in Mexico six years, eleven months, and twelve days ago. On the morning of his fifteenth birthday, Miguel's wait is over.

Or so he thinks. The trip north to the border—la línea—is fraught with dangers. Thieves. Border guards. And a grueling, two-day trek across the desert. It would be hard enough to survive alone. But it's almost impossible with…


Greenmantle

By John Buchan,

Book cover of Greenmantle

John Buchan served in the War Propaganda Bureau during WWI, crafting press releases that sought to preserve public morale against the terrible losses on the Western Front. Already a successful novelist, he created a new character named Richard Hannay who starred in his 1915 adventure thriller The Thirty Nine Steps. Hannay was so popular that Buchan revived him for a 1916 sequel set in the Ottoman Empire that proved an enduring classic: Greenmantle. Through his work in intelligence and propaganda, Buchan was aware of British war planners’ concerns that the Ottoman call for jihad that followed their declaration of war might provoke colonial Muslims to rise against the Entente Powers in India, Egypt, North Africa, and the Caucasus. He captured British fears of an Ottoman-inspired jihad inflaming Indian Muslims with the memorably Orientalist line: “There is a dry wind blowing through the East, and the parched grasses wait the spar.…

Greenmantle

By John Buchan,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Greenmantle as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

With an introduction by Christopher Hitchens. Richard Hannay is tasked to investigate rumours of an uprising in the Muslim world and takes off on a hair-raising journey through German-occupied Europe to meet up with his old friend Sandy Arbuthnot in Constantinople, where they must thwart the Germans' plans to use religion to help them win the war. Set during World War I, Greenmantle is a controversial meditation on the power of political Islam.


The Rwanda Crisis

By Gérard Prunier,

Book cover of The Rwanda Crisis: History of a Genocide

So many books have been written about the 1994 genocide in Rwanda since this came out, but for me it still effortlessly holds its own: clear, accessible, immensely insightful in the way it traces cause and effect. Make sure you buy the second edition, though, as French historian Prunier revised some key views over the years, including his opinion on who brought down the plane in which two African presidents died – the incident that triggered the genocide. The book is the perfect companion piece for Prunier’s follow-up tome, which pans back to examine not just Rwanda but the entire Great Lakes region during the turbulent post-genocide years: “From Genocide to Continental War. The “Congolese” Conflict and the Crisis of Contemporary Africa.” 

The Rwanda Crisis

By Gérard Prunier,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Rwanda Crisis as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

In the spring of 1994 the tiny African nation of Rwanda exploded onto the international media stage, as internal strife reached genocidal proportions. But the horror that unfolded before our eyes had been building steadily for years before it captured the attention of the world. In The Rwanda Crisis, journalist and Africa scholar Gerard Prunier provides a historical perspective that Western readers need to understand how and why the brutal massacres of 800,000 Rwandese came to pass. Prunier shows how the events in Rwanda were part of a deadly logic, a plan that served central political and economic interests, rather…


When Victims Become Killers

By Mahmood Mamdani,

Book cover of When Victims Become Killers: Colonialism, Nativism, and the Genocide in Rwanda

This influential book on the Rwandan genocide presents a nuanced analysis of how extreme violence can arise in postcolonial contexts. Through this and other writings, Mamdani has made important contributions to the study of violence, imperialism, and postcolonialism.

When Victims Become Killers

By Mahmood Mamdani,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked When Victims Become Killers as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

An incisive look at the causes and consequences of the Rwandan genocide

"When we captured Kigali, we thought we would face criminals in the state; instead, we faced a criminal population." So a political commissar in the Rwanda Patriotic Front reflected after the 1994 massacre of as many as one million Tutsis in Rwanda. Underlying his statement was the realization that, though ordered by a minority of state functionaries, the slaughter was performed by hundreds of thousands of ordinary citizens, including judges, doctors, priests, and friends. Rejecting easy explanations of the Rwandan genocide as a mysterious evil force that was…


Left to Tell

By Immaculée Ilibagiza,

Book cover of Left to Tell: Discovering God Amidst the Rwandan Holocaust

Women in Africa like Phiona and Immaculee are often treated as second-class citizens, which is what makes this book even more encouraging. Ilibagiza lost most of her family during the Rwandan genocide. She survived only after hiding with seven other women for 91 days in a local priest’s bathroom. She eventually found the strength in her heart to forgive those who killed the people closest to her and this compelling story of that spiritual journey defines her as a role model for every woman and man in her still-healing country.

Left to Tell

By Immaculée Ilibagiza,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Left to Tell as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Immaculee Ilibagiza grew up in a country she loved, surrounded by a family she cherished. But in 1994 her idyllic world was ripped apart as Rwanda descended into a bloody genocide. Immaculee's family was brutally murdered during a killing spree that lasted three months and claimed the lives of nearly a million Rwandans.

Incredibly, Immaculee survived the slaughter. For 91 days, she and seven other women huddled silently together in the cramped bathroom of a local pastor while hundreds of machete-wielding killers hunted for them. It was during those endless hours of unspeakable terror that Immaculee discovered the power of…


God Sleeps in Rwanda

By Joseph Sebarenzi, Laura Mullane,

Book cover of God Sleeps in Rwanda: A Journey of Transformation

The author, a Tutsi genocide survivor, was once a young Rwandan politician who deeply admired Paul Kagame and seemed destined for prominent public office. Instead, from his position as parliamentary speaker, he watched as his hero steadily emasculated the judiciary, undermined the country’s Hutu president – a symbol of ethnic reconciliation - and sabotaged parliamentary democracy itself,  eventually fleeing the country when his own life was threatened. His book not only offers great insights into the workings of village life in a tiny African country traumatized by its violent past, it’s a step-by-step analysis of how a dictatorship takes cynical, relentless hold.

God Sleeps in Rwanda

By Joseph Sebarenzi, Laura Mullane,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked God Sleeps in Rwanda as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Joseph Sebarenzi’s parents, seven siblings, and countless other family members were among 800,000 Tutsi brutally murdered over the course of ninety days in 1994 by extremist Rwandan Hutu—an efficiency that exceeded even that of the Nazi Holocaust. His father sent him away to school in Congo as a teenager, telling him, “If we are killed, you will survive.” When Sebarenzi returned to Rwanda after the genocide, he was elected speaker of parliament, only to be forced into a daring escape again when he learned he was the target of an assassination plot.

Poetic and deeply moving, God Sleeps in Rwanda…


Shake Hands with the Devil

By Roméo Dallaire,

Book cover of Shake Hands with the Devil: The Failure of Humanity in Rwanda

Lieutenant General Roméo Dallaire is the highest-ranking military officer who has come out and publicly talked about his psychiatric struggles with flashbacks, depression, and suicidal thoughts. This is his story as the commander of the United Nations Assistance Mission for Rwanda in 1993-94. Woven into his narrative is an account of the onset of traumatic stress and of his reactions to what psychiatry refers to as PTSD. This is a brutally honest book by a high-ranking military officer about the unspeakable inhumanity of civil war and the terrible vulnerability of international peacemakers. It is a story of one of the walking wounded who survived the genocide as a moral witness.  

Shake Hands with the Devil

By Roméo Dallaire,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Shake Hands with the Devil as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

For the first time in the United States comes the tragic and profoundly important story of the legendary Canadian general who "watched as the devil took control of paradise on earth and fed on the blood of the people we were supposed to protect." When Romeo Dallaire was called on to serve as force commander of the UN Assistance Mission for Rwanda, he believed that his assignment was to help two warring parties achieve the peace they both wanted. Instead, he was exposed to the most barbarous and chaotic display of civil war and genocide in the past decade, observing…


5 book lists we think you will like!

Interested in Rwanda, genocide, and the Rwandan genocide?

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