Strength in What Remains (Random House Reader's Circle)
In Strength in What Remains, Tracy Kidder gives us the story of one man’s inspiring American journey and of the ordinary people who helped him, providing brilliant testament to the power of second chances. Deo arrives in the United States from Burundi in search of a new life. Having survived a civil war and genocide, he lands at JFK airport with two hundred dollars, no English, and no contacts. He ekes out a precarious existence delivering groceries, living in Central Park, and learning English by reading dictionaries in bookstores. Then Deo begins to meet the strangers who will change his life, pointing him eventually in the direction of Columbia University, medical school, and a life devoted to healing. Kidder breaks new ground in telling this unforgettable story as he travels with Deo back over a turbulent life and shows us what it means to be fully human.
he was aware of trying not to smile in public. Of course, the dentist wasn’t about to take him in. But something promising came out of the encounter. Sharon said she knew how he could get his teeth straightened for free, if he wanted them straightened—at the New York University dental school. He wouldn’t mind, but dentistry was for later. The search for a place continued. She took him to see a nun who ran a boardinghouse of sorts. Sister Leontine. “She’s great,” Sharon said. Sister Leontine
a book that he thought he would like to read and turn the pages, imagining that he was reading them. And when he fell asleep, it usually took the staff longer to ask him to leave than at the Barnes & Noble. He had never much liked Bujumbura, a city where nothing worked right, a city that had seemed like an incipient hell when he had left it. When he thought of home, he thought, yearningly, of the palm groves by the light blue waters of Lake Tanganyika and the grazing land in the mountains. At
seemed to be content where he was. It was peaceful right here, even though he was surrounded by bodies. “I’m too tired,” he told the woman. “I’m just going to stay here.” “No, no,” she said. “The border, it’s nearby.” Then she said, “Get up!” He couldn’t trust anyone. He didn’t fully believe in her. But he obeyed her, mainly because she was so persistent, leaning over and pulling at his upper arm, saying, “Come on, come on, please come on.” They walked together through a mixed landscape,
Paul Farmer didn’t sleep much either. But he had a choice, Deo figured. He imagined that Farmer’s sleeplessness, unlike his own, was self-imposed and purposeful, and therefore admirable. Deo went to work at Partners In Health, becoming, in the organization’s vernacular, a PIH-er. Actually, they didn’t have a slot for him at the time, but Farmer and the organization’s medical director—a doctor named Joia Mukherjee—created one. “He needed a job, any job,” Paul Farmer remembered. “And we needed
granite frieze above its broad front: HOMER, HERODOTUS, SOPHOCLES, PLATO, ARISTOTLE, DEMOSTHENES, CICERO, VERGIL. “That is the Butler Library. It’s such a beautiful library. I love it. It’s the library in my heart.” He was laughing softly. “I loved that library. I like to be back here, actually.” “This was a happy place,” I suggested. “Oh my God yes!” He was smiling. “Gosh, I really miss being here.” He added, “The sad thing was I didn’t make many friends with students my age. It’s such a lost