Review – Left To Tell


Left To Tell:  Discovering God Amidst the Rwandan Holocaust by Immaculee Ilibagiza with Steve Erwin

From book jacket:

Immaculee Ilibagiza grew up in a country she loved, surrounded by a family she cherished.  But in 1994 her idyllic world was ripped apart as Rwanda descended into a bloody genocide.  Her family was brutally murdered during a killing spree that lasted three months and claimed the lives of nearly a million Rwandans.  Miraculously, Immaculee survived the slaughter.  For 91 days, she and seven other women huddled silently together in the cramped bathroom of a local pastor’s home while hundreds of machete-waving killers hunted for them.  It was during those endless hours of unspeakable terror that Immaculee discovered the power of prayer, eventually shedding her fear of death and forging a profound and lasting relationship with God.  She emerged from the bathroom hideout having truly discovered the meaning of unconditional love – a love so strong that she was able to seek out and forgive her family’s killers. 


My thoughts:

My grandma loaned me this book on Saturday evening and I finished it last night… clearly, I couldn’t put it down.  Immaculee’s story is absolutely heartbreaking but ultimately one of the most inspiring things I’ve ever read.  The things this girl has been through, words simply cannot describe (although Immaculee did a pretty good job describing them in her book, in full disgustingly bloody detail).  Reading this book made me feel very, very lucky to be alive and to know that this type of terror is not something that I’ll probably ever have to experience.  Left to Tell is very religion-focused because, like the summary says, that is how she got through those terrifying 3 months in a cramped bathroom, unable to move, speak, shower, or really even eat.  If you are turned off by the God centricity of this book, don’t be.  You can still feel just as inspired by this story if you don’t belive in her God, it’s truly a worthwile read no matter what your religious beliefs.  The book goes into a little detail about why the genocide in Rwanda occured; it’s pretty rudimentary but it will suffice if you are not informed of the causes already (of course, I encourage anyone to read up on the genocide who is not familiar with what happened anyway).  The main thing that struck me as so unbelievable (in a good way) was Immaculee’s incredible power to forgive.  She lamented many times throughout the book how she could not believe that powerful countries such as the United States, and organizations such as the UN, were not stepping in to stop the genocide until it had gone on for over three months and more than a million people had been killed; anyone in that situation would feel just as angry and resentful toward these large and powerful governments that did nothing to help Rwandans.  But as soon as the genocide was over, she went to work for the UN, and eventually moved to the United States with her American-born husband… if that’s not forgiveness, I don’t know what is.  The biggest thing that she forgave, however, was the killing of her family.  She said she relied on God to help her with this, and he put love and grace in her heart so that when she (many years down the road) came face to face with the man who killed her parents, she was able to tell him that she forgave him and move on with her life.  And move on she did – she is now a successful professional at the UN, she has created a foundation to help survivors of the genocide, and she has a wonderful husband, two kids, and a happy life.  This book will really touch your heart and inspire you; I encourage everyone to pick it up.


Rating of the book: 95 out of 100.


8 thoughts on “Review – Left To Tell

  1. I saw this story on one of those 20/20 type shows, but the kids were crazy and I only caught bits and pieces, completely missed her name (not that I would have gotten the spelling of her last name), so I am overjoyed to read this review. To read the full story after seeing that tiny bathroom will be fascinating. Thanks.

  2. I saw this story on one of those 20/20 type shows, but the kids were going crazy and I only caught bits and pieces, completely missed her name (not that I would have gotten the spelling of her last name), so I am overjoyed to read this review. To read the full story after seeing that tiny bathroom will be fascinating. Thanks.

  3. Looks like I’ll have to be putting this on my TBR list for this year. Thanks for the recommendation. I really want to read this one now. I see you also liked A Thousand Splendid Suns as well, which means that you might like What is the What by Dave Eggers. It’s also one of those books that makes you feel so grateful for what you have. You can read a full review over at my blog.

    1. Joshua Wahner
      Left to Tell
      Left to tell is a book about a young girl who is growing up and learns that she is a Tutsie. She had three brothers and no sisters. Her Mother and Father send her to school when one of the teachers does an ethnic roll call. That’s when she figured out she was a tutsie. When she gets into a private school Rwanda was attacked by tutsie rebels known as the RPF. The war ended then when she is older she was sent to college and during one of her brakes she goes down to her Mother and Fathers house. While there Damascene busted through the door and said he saw Hutu Extremist with a list of Tutsie names for them to kill. The others didn’t believe him and while they were sleeping they were attacked by the Hutus. Immaculee ran to Pastor Murinzis house to hide.
      When she gets there she and several other women were hidden in a secret bathroom. While in their Immaculee prayed and read the bibles many times. After three months in the bathroom they were taken to the UN camp. Later though taken to the RPF camp. She got a job at a UN office and began working. Her and Aimble her eldest brother were the only ones out of her family to survive. She forgave all the Hutu killers for killing her family and other Tutsies and went to America and got married when she got a job writing and publishing books.

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