As I mentioned in an earlier post, Gloria Whelan is an author whose books I have really enjoyed in the past. When I saw Listening for Lions at the library last week, I knew it would be a winner, and I was right! I am glad to renew my acquaintance with Whelan’s works and I look forward to reading more.
Listening for Lions is the story of Rachel Sheridan, the young teenage daughter of a missionary doctor and teacher, who lives in British East Africa (modern day Kenya) around the time of World War I. When the Spanish Influenza epidemic finds its way to her remote village, Rachel’s life is turned upside down because her parents contract the disease and die as they care for the native Africans in the hospital her father built. In a completely unexpected turn of events (which I will discuss vaguely to avoid spoilers), Rachel is taken in by an English family, but their plans for her are less than noble. Rachel is sent back to England on a dishonest mission, but through a series of twists and turns mostly brought about through her own good sense and loving nature, Rachel ends up the winner in the end. In fact, at the end of the book she finally achieves her lifelong dream of returning to Africa to care for the people there. This is her reaction once she finally gets back home:
Once I had to leave the line of patients to hide in the cab of the truck and cry, for i was where I wanted to be and doing what I dreamed of doing. (189)
This book is a cross between The Prince and the Pauper and The Secret Garden. It is an excellent cross-cultural story of girl brought up to serve who ends up in a world vastly unlike the one her parents prepared for her, but because of their excellent training and her life experiences, she comes out on top. I would recommend this to anyone, but I think it would especially appeal to girls from about ten years old to adult.
You can read more about Gloria Whelan and her works on her website.
(If you’re interested in reading other reviews or purchasing this book, here’s an Amazon link for Listening for Lions. It seems that their images have changed and are often too little to use on my blog. Have any of you other book bloggers/Amazon Associates had this problem?)