Left to Tell by Imaculee Ilibagiza

Summary:  In the late spring and early summer of 1994, the country of Rwanda was torn apart by genocide.  Immaculeé Ilibagiza, a college student at the time, was home on Easter break when the massacre began.  She fled to a local pastor’s home for protection and survived the nightmare by hiding in a small bathroom for three months.  While the barricaded bathroom door kept Immaculeé’s body safe, incessant prayer preserved her mind and led her to forgiveness in the midst of unimaginable loss.

Review:   Left to Tell is powerful, in more ways than one.  Ilibagiza gives numbers and images that illustrate the magnitude of the Rwandan holocaust, but by focusing on her own story she allows readers to experience the event in a more personal way.   It wasn’t just “about a million Tutsis” who were killed in 1994, but about mothers, brothers, and college roommates.  People with stories.  Likewise, “surviving” was more than a lucky break.  It was three months of not being able to move, not knowing who was dead or alive, and struggling to keep hatred from seizing the soul.

Most amazingly, Ilibagiza manages to convey the horror of what happened and the personal loss and betrayal she experienced without being bitter.  She almost writes with a sense of hope.  While terror and hatred reigned outside, Ilibagiza sat in a bathroom, begging God to transform her own hatred into love and forgiveness.  Her book is evidence that those prayers were answered.  Ilibagiza’s work is evidence that she believes 1994 must never be forgotten, but she holds that it does have to be forgiven.  That is the only way to “avoid perpetuating the cycle of hatred.”

Left to Tell is a book everyone should read.  It shows the best and worst of humanity, is a book of warning and of hope.

Part of the profits gained by sale of this book support the LEFT TO TELL Charitable Fund, which supports children in Rwanda and elsewhere in Africa.

Published: 2006

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