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Review: The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind

August 13, 2010

William Kamkwamba was just an average boy in a small village in Malawi.  His family wasn’t wealthy, but they had everything they needed, so they were happy.   They relied on the crops they grew for food and money –  when drought and famine struck Malawi, his family went hungry and William was forced to drop out of school, because they couldn’t afford the small fee it cost.

William had a thirst for knowledge and a strong desire to go to school, so he decided to self-educate himself in an attempt to keep up with his classmates, hoping that he would eventually be able to return to school.  He haunted the small library at the local primary school reading whatever he could.   He said:

I kept returning to the library every week even though I had no idea when or if I’d ever return to school.  I kept going, so I could increase my general knowledge, and so I would remain inspired.

One day he happened upon an American textbook, Using Energy, that changed his life forever.  This textbook fascinated William and when he read about windmills in it, he decided to build one of his own.

Even though people laughed at him, William collected scraps and junk hoping that he could use some of them to create a windmill to help improve the life of his family.  William never gave up and his story is truly inspiring.

The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind by William Kamkwambe and Bryan Mealer is a fantastic book about a remarkable young man.  I was so moved by this book that I talked about it all the time as I read it.  I think what struck me the most was that William wasn’t the smartest student in his school (before he was forced to drop out) but he has such a thirst for knowledge and such a tenacious spirit that he never considered giving up.  I couldn’t help but think about all the students in our country to take their education for granted and don’t make the best of it.

There were parts of the book that were a little too technical for me, but that didn’t stop me from enjoying it overall.  I was so impressed with William’s story and his passion and think it’s one that will inspire many people.  You won’t want to miss this outstanding book!

Review copy provided by Harper Collins.  I am an Indiebound Affiliate.


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40 Comments leave one →
  1. August 13, 2010 5:08 am

    As a teacher I wish for my students not to learn by rot but by wishing to gain knowledge. To make a difference in this world.

    I suppose this book is right upto my alley!

  2. August 13, 2010 5:14 am

    I was so touched and inspired by William’s spirit and tenacity. This was a fabulous true story that stayed with me and uplifts me when I tnink life gets rough. I reviewed this last year … One of my favorites in 2009.

  3. August 13, 2010 7:54 am

    I haven’t heard about this book. Thanks for the review – now I have another book for my TBR memoirs 🙂

  4. August 13, 2010 7:57 am

    I’ve had this on my to be read shelf for some time. I was afraid that there would be too much technical information. I think I can get into it whether or not I understanding any of the science!

  5. August 13, 2010 8:03 am

    I have this one too! It sounds like such an inspiring read! Great review.

  6. August 13, 2010 8:08 am

    Wonderful review. I’ll be reading this for sure!

  7. August 13, 2010 8:40 am

    It is truly astounding the lengths that others will go to for an education while, as you say, many in our country are indifferent to the value of an education.

    William Kamkwamba sounds like a remarkable man with an inspiring story!

  8. August 13, 2010 8:59 am

    I’m glad to hear you enjoyed it; Boy Who Harnessed the Wind was my top read of 2009. Love it!

  9. August 13, 2010 9:36 am

    I am glad that this was such an enjoyable read for you. I found one other review which wasn’t as favorable, so I like having a bit more perspective. I would probably be able to ignore the dry and technical part.

  10. stacybuckeye permalink
    August 13, 2010 9:45 am

    I saw him when he was on The Daily Show and he was very charming. Glad you liked the book 🙂

  11. August 13, 2010 10:26 am

    Great Review Kathy. I haven’t heard of this book either but I think I might have to look for it now.

  12. August 13, 2010 10:26 am

    I’ve been seeing mixed reviews of this book so I’m happy to see that you enjoyed it. It’s one that I’m looking forward to reading at some point.

  13. August 13, 2010 10:52 am

    I’m giving away this book on my blog right now–planning on reading it with my kids this fall. It may be too technical for them in spots, but I think they’ll learn a lot!

  14. August 13, 2010 12:00 pm

    I have heard so many good things about this book. I love stories of people overcoming great difficulties. What a great lesson for kids and grown ups too!

  15. August 13, 2010 12:07 pm

    I feel like I’ve been hearing great this about this book for ages. Thanks for the great review!

  16. August 13, 2010 12:17 pm

    That sounds like a really inspiring story.

  17. August 13, 2010 1:10 pm

    I haven’t heard of this one before- it sounds inspiring. Nice review Kathy.

  18. August 13, 2010 1:14 pm

    I heard about this book quite a while ago, but had forgotten. I’m really glad you reviewed it today.

    Helen

  19. August 13, 2010 1:54 pm

    Sounds definitely inspiring and I’m sure I can just skim over some of the technicalities.

  20. August 13, 2010 1:56 pm

    Aarti over at Booklust also raved over this book, and after reading your review, this sounds like a book I need to make time for. It sounds like an incredibly inspiring read, and I am glad you loved it!!

  21. August 13, 2010 3:52 pm

    This is wonderful. Thanks for the interview. Golly, what he says in the video is so powerful. Thanks again.

  22. Beth Hoffman permalink
    August 13, 2010 4:24 pm

    I’ve read so many wonderful things about this boy and his remarkably tenacious spirit. Great review, Kathy!

  23. August 13, 2010 4:45 pm

    Jenners absolutely fell in love with this book, but others did not. I personally love inspiring stories like this. I really really want to get my hands on it.

  24. August 13, 2010 5:21 pm

    Yes, I have read some reviews that loved this book..and a few that did not, but it sounds very interesting.

  25. August 13, 2010 6:55 pm

    Wow! This review attests to the power of books. Very inspirational review and video! 🙂

  26. August 13, 2010 9:06 pm

    I too have seen so many reviews going both ways. I do have it though, so I’m glad that I have the choice if I decide to read it!

  27. August 13, 2010 9:16 pm

    The video was very inspiring as was your review. I definitely want to find this one.

  28. August 14, 2010 4:00 am

    I’m so happy you liked this book. I have this book in my TBR pile and I’m really looking forward to reading it.

  29. August 14, 2010 3:04 pm

    i’ve been hearing about this book alot lately. i’m glad you liked it so much. i think i have to add this one to my wishlist. thanks for the review!

  30. August 14, 2010 9:26 pm

    The technical parts wouldn’t be very appealing to me but the story itself sounds interesting because even though he wasn’t the smartest kid around, he still wanted to learn. Like you said, that’s sadly not the case in our countries students very often.

  31. August 15, 2010 12:18 am

    This sounds like such an inspirational story. Definitely one I should check out. Thanks for the great review, Kathy!

  32. August 15, 2010 1:16 pm

    This book sounds so inspirational. Just reading your review makes me feel so lucky for the opportunities that I have to learn. I’ll definitely be adding this to my TBR list.

  33. August 15, 2010 7:52 pm

    I agree with you wholeheartedly!! I think William’s story needs to be told to everyone!! And I think so many students who fritter away their educational opportunities should read this to realize how lucky they are and why education matters.

  34. August 15, 2010 11:40 pm

    I’m glad you enjoyed this book. I loved it; it was one of my favorite books from last year. I was struck by how much William wanted to learn; but also that he wasn’t the only one who had a thirst for knowledge. We take so many things for granted here, including education.

  35. August 16, 2010 10:35 am

    Wow, this sounds like a very inspiring book…thanks for the review.

  36. August 17, 2010 9:08 pm

    What an awesome review of this book. I really want to read it and think it would be great to inspire some teens with this young man’s story!

  37. August 20, 2010 12:26 am

    His story is such an inspiration! I look forward to reading the book.

  38. August 20, 2010 9:55 pm

    I have the ARC of this book on my TBR Shelves and want to read it, but others call me louder. I look forward to the day that it lands in my hands.

  39. August 21, 2010 10:26 am

    Talk about books changing lives! This sounds very good, Kathy. I’ve heard about this book sometime earlier but couldn’t remember when. I’m glad you reviewed this and that reminded me that I ought to read it too. I love that quote!

  40. August 22, 2010 1:23 am

    Great review Kathy! I have this book sitting in my stacks, it’s been there way too long.

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