I’ve just read and reviewed a powerful and affecting story on Kindle, Eleven Miles by Lance Greenfield.
I understand the novel was inspired by a village girl, Boikanyo Phenyo, from the Okavango Delta in northern Botswana. The life prospects for girls born into such circumstances are limited: school till the end of primary education, get married, have five or six children, die too early. That is unless you can gain high education. This lady walked eleven miles to secondary school, and eleven miles home, every day for five years just so that she could go on to university.
“Eleven Miles” shows how adversity can, in the right circumstances, sharpen up the resolve to succeed. Through this account of the teenage years of Boi, a gifted young girl from Botswana, Greenfield provides us with a strong contrast to the “entitled” mind-set that comfortable Western culture can sometimes engender.
“Eleven Miles” shows us how one girl builds on her gifts and meets the challenges of adversity to achieve her dreams of academic and sporting excellence, The adversities she must face include having to find enough money for school fees from the earnings of numerous family members; the lack of transport for the 11 mile journey to school, meaning her only option is to go on foot; added to the necessity of having to collect water and firewood on top of this every day when she gets home from school; and all this in the context of not having enough to eat (a hunk of bread for breakfast, and the same again for lunch). In addition to these, Boi must face cruelty, injustice and tragedy, before she wins through to her prize.
Despite the inspirational quality of the story, I never really felt I understood where or how Boi had gained her phenomenal determination and focus. She clearly has a gift which can never be explained but I wished I could have had a much deeper insight into the weaknesses and vulnerabilities of her character; this would helped me feel her eventual triumph more intensely.
Despite this, the strength of the story itself shines through, and I find myself haunted by it, and the message of the book stays with me.
Do download the novel now; it’s a simple, very readable tale which I recommend to you! Half of the profits from the sale of this novel go to Boikanyo Phenyo’s project to buy a school bus for the villages of her home area.