Actual Rating: 3.5
This book was definitely really different from most books I’ve read. Busara Road takes place in 1966, after Kenya’s fight for independence. Mark Morgan, eleven years old, moves with his father to Kenya and finds himself thrown into a different world and culture, which he grows to love. However, tensions are still running high after the fight against colonialism, and Mark discovers more than he ever bargained for.
The writing style is really special. It’s beautiful at times, but one word I’d use to describe it is mellow. It actually reminds me a bit of the movie Boyhood, in which the story is paced almost as if it’s real life, with little everyday scenes and self-discoveries. Therefore, the pace of the book was a little slow—making it a bit hard to get into—but I could really appreciate all the historical and cultural details.
This book was definitely more driven by the environment, the story, and the culture than the characters (also similar to Boyhood). It was nice to read about a main character that was as full of curiosity as I, as a reader, was. At the same time, this meant that the characters weren’t exactly people I was able to connect with, and it sometimes felt like I was watching things happen from far away, through binoculars.
The plot of this story focuses around Mark’s discovery, experiences, and his personal growth, so once again, it took a while to get into. I think the pacing of the book could be distributed better, as a lot of things happened in the first and last 10% of the book, while the middle was very slow. One sub-plot of this book talks about Mark’s sexual awakening as he meets a girl named Layla, and while I liked how this character’s backstory tied in with the larger historical context, but I think the sub-plot itself could have connected more with the main plot.
Other than that, I really enjoyed this book and learning about a culture I had never really read about before! I really appreciate the author writing this story by referencing his own experiences, and I would definitely recommend this to anybody interested in Kenya’s colonial history or anybody who likes reading historical fiction.
This book comes out in April 2019, so keep a lookout!