In The Shadow of 10,000 Hills

In The Shadow of 10,000 HillsIn The Shadow of 10,000 Hills by Jennifer Haupt
Published by Central Avenue Publishing on April 1st 2018
Pages: 384
ISBN: 1771681330
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“Here’s a bit of wisdom from your old man: It’s the search that really matters, the adventure of living your life.”

Rachel Shepherd has been thinking about her father who abandoned her as a small child. Her Mother has recently passed away and Rachel is dealing with loss and heartbreak. She yearns to connect to her father and learn why he left her all those years ago. She would also like to find him in hopes of reconnecting and when she finds a link to her father and begins to send emails to Lillian Carlson, whom her father photographed years ago. She hopes that Lilian will answer and provide her with some insight.

Lilian was a teenager when she was photographed by Rachel’s father Henry. She and Henry shared a romance before he left her, and she moved on with her life, finding love and loss along the way. Lilian decided to leave Atlanta in 1968 after the assassination of Martin Luther King. She still wants to change the world and decides she will do so by moving to Africa and helping orphans in Rwanda. There she eventually resumes her relationship with Henry Shepherd and they live in happiness until once again he leaves.

Believing she has been invited to Rwanda, Rachel makes the journey only to learn that Lilian is not expecting her and is somewhat uncooperative to talk to her in detail about her father. Learning that her father has disappeared again, Rachel goes on a quest to find answers, but comes up with more questions.

Rachel and Lilian are not the only characters in this book dealing with loss. Tucker has lost a woman he loves and the support of his family. Nadine, in two minutes time, has lost everything. The effects of the Rwandan genocide are shown in this book. Violence, mutilation, rape, are shown and how survivors such as Nadine are scarred for life but still find a way to keep living.

“It is not so easy to judge the ones you love.”

Rachel, Lilian and Nadine are all tied to Henry Shepherd, who has become a famous photographer and, in the process, become tied to each other. In one way or another he has left all three of these women but for different reasons. Through him, or perhaps because of him, the women slowly form a bond and begin to open up to each other and each gets answers. Will the answers be the ones they are looking for?

This is a powerful book about love, loss, grief, abandonment, starting over, finding your true calling, the effects of violence, fear, vengeance, secrets, and what makes a family. This book goes back and forth through time from the 1960’s Civil Rights movement in Atlanta to the Rwandan Genocide in the 1990’s. Lilian and Henry are the characters who experienced both events, but their experiences have shaped not only their lives, but their relationships, and their careers. How does experiencing violence shape one’s life? How does abandonment? How does love?

This book is extremely well written, and the descriptions are detailed. This is not a page turner in the edge-of-your-seat-suspense sense but in the I-want-to-know-what-happened-sense. I enjoyed how nothing felt rushed or drawn out in this book. I felt the pacing was spot on and the characters and the readers gain insight and answers at the right spots in the story. I especially enjoyed how the “secrets” or “reveal” are shown naturally though the story. What really happened that fateful night? Where has Henry gone and why? Will Rachel ever learn the truth? What secrets does Lilian hold? Read and find out!

Thank you to Jennifer Haupt, Central Avenue Publishing and NetGalley who provided me with a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.