Book Review: The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind

Before I discovered the miracles of science, magic ruled the world.

This is the moving story of William Kamkwamba and his stories of growing up in Malawi, Africa.  Malawai is a place where magic, superstitions and a corrupt government rule the world and where science is a mystery.  It is a place of uncertain meals, drought, and hunger.  William and his family are not wealthy, being poor tobacco and corn farmers, but they are happy.  Everything is fascinating to him and reading of young William’s exploits, alone and with his friends, was probably my favorite part of the book.

Although Geoffrey, Gilbert, and I grew up in this small place in Africa we did many of the same things children do all over the world, only with slightly different materials.  And talking with friends I’ve met from America and Europe, I now know this is true. Children everywhere have similar ways of entertaining themselves.  If you look at it this way, the world isn’t so big.

It is this inquisitive attitude that saved him when drought forces William to drop out of school, after his family can’t pay the fee for him to attend.  William had a voracious appetite for learning and a curiosity that would not be stopped.  He decided to educate himself and turned to the small library in his village and the power of books.  It is through books, one book in particular, that William feeds his hungry mind.

William is a man after my own heart. More often than not, if I want to learn something, I turn to a book.  William does the same thing.  And when William discovers an American text book, Using Energy, his life changes in ways he probably never dreamed of.  I am a lover of words however, not a technical person at all, so some of the more technical parts of the story were difficult for me.  However, the strong narrative made it easy to keep going.  I just had to know what happened to William!  He’s the kind of guy you just root for.

The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind is the very best of what I love about nonfiction.  Not only did I learn of a culture that I knew little about, I found it to be fascinating.   William may not have had the best life, being hungry, without schooling, and poor.  But he had his imagination and he knew how to use it!  William is the kind of scrappy, persistent, and dedicated kid that you can’t help but root for and love.  I was reminded so much of myself in William; curious, tenacious, not the smartest in the class, but where William and I part company is how he used his wits to change his life.  William serves as an inspiration to those who may think they can’t do it.  This young, poor kid from Africa did it; he is now a student at Dartmouth University in New Hampshire.  If he can do it, so can you.  Give his story a read and see just how inspired William will make you.

The Boy who Harnessed the Wind
William Kamkwamba and Bryan Mealer
Published by: Harper Perennial
Format: Paperback
Pages: 288
On Sale: August 2010
ISBN: 9780061730320

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6 thoughts on “Book Review: The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind

  1. I'm reading this now myself and really enjoying it. William is one of those people with a fabulous technical mind – all he needed was a little bit of knowledge to get him started and he could take it from there. I can't wait to see how the rest of his story turns out.

    Thanks for being a part of the tour!

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