Friday, 27 January 2017

Friendship: A True Story of Adventure, Goodwill, and Endurance... - Francis Mandewah


                Friendship is the touching story of a young Sierra Leonean boy, Francis Mandewah, and the American helicopter pilot he meets who ends up changing his life forever. All Francis wanted was to be able to go to school but because of extreme poverty his mother had to send him to live with a family member so that he could attend an affordable school. Here he was treated like a slave and beaten often. Then one day, due to the mysterious workings of God as Francis believes, he met American Tom Johnson, a helicopter pilot who transported blood diamonds. Tom paid for Francis to move to a new place where he wouldn’t be abused and be able to attend a better school. Eventually, in adulthood, he went to America and built a new life, all with Tom’s help.  Throughout the book, Francis’s belief and trust in God help him overcome many obstacles and his spirituality shines through. This is not a “feel-good” book that preaches religion and positive thinking. Mr. Mandewah takes the reader on a journey across the continents as he travels to Sicily, Greece, London and other places, always recounting the good and the bad in a factual and entertaining manner. The writing is not just good, it’s really good. He manages to recount events that had to have been difficult to for him but he doesn’t become hung up on emotion and lose the focus of his story. He provides an equal amount of information about events in his life and the details about the area he is writing about. I found his years in Africa to be fascinating. The way he lived would be very difficult for those of us in the Western world but was normal for him. I know that, for myself, I could never live without all of the amenities I have now or even without Western medicine. Mr. Mandewah never complains. In fact he makes it clear how much he cherished family time even during the hardships. These things are what makes this book such a great read. He keeps the pace moving so it’s a very fast and easy book to finish. The pictures at the back of the book provide a look at where Mr. Mandewah was born and the cover has a charming picture of Tom and him. The author writes that he would “never make a general negative statement based on whiteness” and that has really hit home with me. This formatted well to my ereader and is truly a wonderful read.