Auma’s Long Run is about an African American girl named Auma who finds herself in the midst of an outbreak of a terrible disease. Auma is a runner. She loves running for her school and hopes to use her skills to one day earn a scholarship to high school so she can begin to study to become a doctor. This dream, unfortunately, is far-fetched. Not many women in Auma’s small African village are able to do anything besides marry and have kids.
When a strange new sickness begins to break out all over Auma’s village, however, her dream to become a doctor is strengthened as she watches innocent people all around her fall ill and die. Whispers begin to circulate that this illness is called AIDS, but the name is so frightening that people hardly ever use it. Auma and her friend are slowly discovering more about this strange sickness, but they can do nothing to stop the death all around them. Will they be able to carry on with their lives and follow their dreams? Or will they also succumb to death like so many others?
I thoroughly enjoyed this book. It not only draws the reader in, but it accurately portrays a young girl’s coming of age in such a way that the reader cannot help but understand Auma’s every feeling. While this story is marketed perhaps as a story about Auma’s amazing running skill, it is more so about the havoc the mysterious disease wreaks upon Auma’s people.
The characters were wonderfully developed, and I was able to find something to relate to in each of them. Auma grows in both maturity and understanding throughout the book. The story takes place throughout a two and half year period and makes for a lovely coming of age story.
There wasn’t much of a plotline besides the obvious struggle with AIDS. I feel like the author could have added a few more conflicts in the story to spice things up a bit. Although there isn’t too much action and adventure, there are more emotional conflicts that strike the reader in a way most other books can’t because they are so full of action.
The reader should be cautioned that since AIDS was mostly spread through bodily contact, there are several mentions of sex throughout the story. There are also a couple instances where one learns that a husband was cheating on his wife. Most men in that culture, however, had more than one woman they took care of, so this is not portrayed in as much of a negative light as it is in our culture in America.
Overall, this is a wonderful and heartwarming story about terrible circumstances that the people of Africa have had to struggle through. I would strongly recommend this book to females who are old enough to understand the nature of AIDS. See content rating for further information.