Eric Walters has taken fiction to another level with this story of an epic journey of a brother and sister through war torn Kenya to their mother’s childhood village where they might find family and refuge from the terror of civil strife which surrounds them. On the 150 km journey through the countryside—braving lions, bandits and the elements—and through the busy and harrowing city of Nairobi, thirteen-year-old Muchoki and his seven-year-old sister face daily fears of violence and the unknown future which awaits them. Will they be accepted or rejected by the family their mother left when she married outside her tribe? Not only do the children face the stigma of intertribal marriage, but also the violence of other tribes in Kenya who murder each other when democracy fails. But they also experience many acts of heroic kindness from people who ought to be their enemies—from a Kalenjin soldier who regards himself as a Kenyan first and tribe member second, to the older and younger Wilsons, warriors who wish to be left alone and retain their tribal identity. In the emotional climax to this novel, Muchoki learns that hope, though sometimes faint, can be the fan that inspires us to action when all things seem set against us.
To know his characters, Eric Walters and a small group walked the route taken in the novel over a course of six days. Then he created a website (ericwalterswalking home.com) to accompany the events of the novel. There the reader can follow the icons in the text to read further, view maps, and even hear the author read from the text. The information provided is extensive and adds many hours of enjoyment to the reading of the novel.
Classroom Connections: Walking Home builds a relationship between the reader and the text. Pictures of the displacement camps, African farms and wildlife, people and their dress, help to do what reading does best: make our world smaller by bringing all of us closer together. Teachers, put this book in your classroom library. Our next generation of humanitarians is waiting to be inspired to action!
Review by Kent Miller