Rainer Maria Rilke

"Live a while in these books, learn from them what seems to you worth learning, but above all love them. This love will be repaid you a thousand and a thousand times, and however your life may turn,-it will, I am certain of it, run through the fabric of your growth as one of the most important threads among all the threads of your experiences, disappointments, and joys."--Rainer Maia Rilke

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Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Inspirational and Heartbreaking

The Queen of Katwe: A Story of Life, Chess and One Extraordinary Girl's Dream of Becoming a Grandmaster by Tim Crothers


This is such a perfect title for this book:  queen, both a chess piece and the girl who defies all odds with grace and beauty.  Sometimes one reads not to learn or know something, but simply to meet a person so extraordinary one thinks of her time and again. That is how I feel about this girl.  I think of her time and again.

This is a book that will change your perspective on many things, perhaps; but most importantly, it will show you the importance of never giving up, even when the something desired looks like a lost cause.  This book spoke to the teacher in me but I suspect everyone reading it will walk away with a different lesson learned.  There are so many meaningful moments in the book.

Phiona Mutesi has grown up in Uganda, in what must be the worst slum in the entire world-Katwe.  Katwe, where human life has no value and girls are considered to be a little less than human.  It is only through Phiona's grim determination to trudge through one more day, and then one more and one after that, that she survives at all.  Phiona shouldn't have survived.  Born to a teen mother with older children and other responsibilities; born of a father who would soon die of AIDS with another family to support; to a nation that sees thousands of its children dying from starvation and disease.  Phiona shouldn't have become a queen and her story is no fairy-tale.  It is indeed one more magical for it is marked by simple human perseverance.  A story of a regular girl, under terribly adverse circumstances, who triumphs by finding the beauty within herself.  I don't know if there are happily-ever-after's for her.  I am too fearful to follow up with research.

This is a story that anyone could love-sports enthusiasts, chess enthusiasts and those, like me, who just love a beautiful story about a remarkable life. 

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