Saturday, 18 September 2010

The Heaven Shop

Sometimes I don't like to go to movies because of what they do to me. I get so engrossed in the movie that when I come out of it I have a hard time shaking off the story and coming back to my own reality.

Debra Ellis' books do that to me too - but it's different. I love her books. This morning I finished The Heaven Shop. Ironically, this one has apparently been made into a movie!

It's set in Malawi and is about the affects around the HIV/AIDS epidemic there. Everyone should read this book! The Wikpedia website says it was written to dispel myths about HIV/AIDS and celebrate the courage of child sufferers in Malawi.

The website about the movie has a synopsis that says:

For Binti's father, who runs Heaven Shop Coffins in the small African country of Malawi, business is booming. Binti lives the life of a national celebrity, private school student and self-centered teenager. Despite her mother’s death and the reality of starring on a radio program created to educate people about the HIV crisis – Binti chooses to be oblivious to the AIDS epidemic around her. Her one goal in life is to become a famous actress or even better, a successful director.

Overnight, Binti’s belief that she is special ends dramatically. After her father’s funeral, Binti and her brother are robbed of their inheritance and sent to live with abusive relatives. Ostracized by their extended family, the orphans are treated like slaves. Once the child star of the most popular radio program in the country, Binti is now reduced to a desperate AIDS orphan.

“There is a lion in our village, and it is carrying away our children.”

Even as Binti clings to the hope that her former life will be restored, she faces a greater challenge... can she save her brother Kwasi from prison? Wrongfully arrested for defending Binti against a sexual predator, he has no chance at freedom. Binti Phiri is not about to give up. After a daring escape and journey into the unknown - help and hope is found in Binti’s grandmother and a group of ragtag children who identify themselves as cousins. There is no money, scarcely any food, constant work and little to hope for - a perfect environment to learn about what really matters in life. By helping others, Binti learns to look outside herself and find a new way to be special.

Binti’s whole journey comes full circle, as she dramatizes her own story for the radio program she once starred in. In the process, Binti finds her family and a place that will always be home... a place where the lion cannot roam freely.

My favorite part of the book is where they talk about losing themself, and then finding themself again. The Binti and her brother have found each other and they find out they're sister Junie is working as a prostitute. They're shocked and ashamed. It says:
Binti remembered their life in Lilongwe. "Junie got lost," she said. "I know what that's like, to feel yourself slip away."

Kwasi thought about this, than he slowly nodded. "That happened to me in Monkey Bay. I started to forget who I was, what made up me. It was even worse in

"I lost my self when my uncle's friend used me." Memory said. "Gogo helped me get myself back."

"And when I was told I was HIV-positive, I thought that the disease was all I was. There was no more Jeremiah, there was just the HIV."

"How did you get yourself back?" Kwasi asked.

"I met other HIV-positive people. They said they weren't sick, they were living positively. As soon as I heard that, I felt Jeremiah coming back into me."

There was quiet for a moment, as they all thought about their lives.....
The issues in my life pale in comparison to these children's, but I feel like I'm finding myself again with my teaching job. Thanks for the inspiration Debra Ellis! You never fail me! I love your books!

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