The Atlas of Forgotten Places by Jenny D. Williams
This is a fascinating and engrossing novel about human compassion in the face of war and unrest.
A German woman named Sabine returns to Africa after years away to try and locate her niece, who has disappeared while volunteering. She is joined in her search by Rose, a native Ugandan trying to find her partner Ocen, who they determine was helping Sabine’s niece. They are thwarted by political events; it's a story about rebellion, displaced persons, violence, kidnapping—ultimately, the horrors of war and the way it upends and disrupts lives.
My knowledge of Africa is limited to a few newspaper articles and stories from my brother-in-law, who was with the State Department in Kenya for a few years. But it isn’t necessary to know anything about Africa to jump right into this story. The writing is lovely and I was easily transported to different settings for which I have no reference point. The pacing is quick and the action very exciting as the characters find themselves deeper in danger as they hunt down their loved ones.
The conflicts in Africa—the conflict in this book being one of many—are complex, but this story was able to illuminate for me the struggles of Uganda and make them feel personal. I highly recommend this very beautiful, thoughtful and well-written story.