Author: Toni Sorenson
Publisher: Covenant Communications
Published Date: October 2011
Softcover; 349 pages
Genre: General Fiction
Reviewed by: Shanda
FTC FYI: free review copy in exchange for an honest review
Fragile, twelve-year-old Yolisha is afraid thinking about her first ride on a brightly painted tap-tap. The city is much farther than she has ever been from her small village of Makak, but Yolisha must go. Tomorrow she has an appointment in Port-au-Prince with the doctor who understands her special illness. But she is terrified that she might lose the grasp of her mother’s hand on the clattering, noisy bus crowded with people and livestock. In truth, Yolisha is frightened of anything, or anyone, that might separate her from the only anchor in her life: her mother.
The next day, Yolisha is slammed with the realization that her greatest danger was not in the bus ride at all. When the earth begins violently shaking, the walls of the clinic crumble, and her mother is torn from her, she fears that her innocent wishing game might have caused the devastating earthquake that has just thrown her into a terrifying world of survival. But what if the same game can uncover hidden strength in Yolisha as she searches for her missing mother? Might the elderly man who plucks her from the rubble save her life . . . while the man’s colorful and determined friend saves her soul by introducing her to the gospel?
What drew me in to The Shaken Earth at first was the glimpse into daily life of the Haitian people. That interest carried me through the entire book. I was curious about what was making Yolisha sick, but that question never really gets answered. While Yolisha is a young, naive girl who initially is demanding, lacks patience and whines a lot, she settles as reality sets in and she accepts what her life will be, at least temporarily, in the aftermath of the earthquake.
The people who truly make The Shaken Earth memorable are the side characters. Though we see everything through Yolisha’s point-of-view, it is Webster, Mona, and even Gessy, that make the story. I knew very little about Haiti or it’s history, but I learned along with Yolisha during Webster’s lessons as he cooked. I witnessed the struggles of the people even before the earthquake, and how much worse it became afterward. There was depravity and crime, but there was also strength and resilience. I can honestly say this is a book I won’t soon forget.
The Shaken Earth is well-written, memorable, and eye-opening. While not horribly graphic, there are a number of disturbing details included. If you are one that likes to snack while you read, you may want to reconsider eating while reading this book if you are sensitive to that sort of thing. While there are LDS missionaries and some talk of the gospel, it is not the main theme of the book. If you enjoy reading books about other countries as well as life-changing experiences, then I would recommend The Shaken Earth.