I read a lot of books. A few are turkeys, but most of them are very good. Every once in a while, one stands out. I’d like to recommend one of those. Strangely enough, I got this one sort of by accident. I was looking for books by one of my favorite authors, Edwidge Danticat, and found one I’d never seen before: Eight Days. My wife picked it up for me from the library. Imagine my surprise to find it was a children’s picture book. Mind you, I have nothing against kids’ books. In fact, I love them. I was just surprised, that’s all. Then I read it and I was even more (pleasantly) surprised.
This is a wonderful book, no matter the age of the reader. It tells the story of Junior, a boy who spends eight days buried in the rubble of his home after the earthquake of last year. With Alex Delinois’ vivid illustrations and Ms. Danticat’s simple yet profound prose, it explores the child’s imagination as he lay in the ruins of his family’s home.
I came away from this book thinking more deeply about the real people, young and old, who were affected by that horrible event. In spite of the seeming hopelessness of Junior’s situation – indeed, the situation of all of Haiti – this story is one of hope. It exemplifies the strength and courage of the Haitian people, a courage I’ve witnessed first hand in the people I’ve met there over the years.
The people of Haiti have a long way to go. Their homes are in shambles and their government is no better off. Medical care is next to non-existent as are jobs, food, and education.
It’s hard to see a light at the end of this tunnel, but Junior’s fictional story at least gives me a small spark. Maybe it will grow into a conflagration of hope.