Rating:

Reviewed by Jennifer J.

On January 24, 2005, Lisa Shannon was forever changed by an Oprah Winfrey segment that raised awareness of conflict in Congo. Since the 1994 Rwandan genocide, opposing militia groups have been forced into Congo and have waged war with one another. Over 4 million people have died as a result, and women continue to suffer the most. They are stripped of their identities, made into slaves, and repeatedly raped by men seeking to control the land. Days later, Lisa was still haunted by the words and images she had seen in those mere 20 minutes.

Risking her career as a photographer and both her romantic and business relationship with her boyfriend, Lisa vowed to make a difference in the lives of Congo women. Donating $27 a month to sponsor a Congalese woman through the nonprofit organization Women for Women International still wasn’t enough for Lisa. With the help of her mother’s organizational and secretarial skills, Lisa spoke in public to both her friends and strangers to encourage others to donate to her cause. She eventually founded Run for Congo Women, which began as a solitary effort with her 30-mile trail run, and is now assisted by thousands of volunteers worldwide. As the year 2009 approached, what began as a one woman effort to make a difference evolved into over 1000 Congalese women gaining sponsorship.

I am almost embarrassed to admit this, but I think it’s important to note: before I read A Thousand Sisters by Lisa Shannon my limited knowledge of Congo consisted of faded images and memories of a Michael Crichton movie with fake looking primates. I didn’t know the important things, such as the fact that Congo has the highest rates of rape in the world, or that its citizens are amongst the poorest in the world. Thanks to Lisa Shannon, I know now these little known facts, and more importantly, that as just one person,I do have the ability to make a difference in the lives of these women and their families.

A Thousand Sisters presents a lot of information about Congo itself and the women she eventually met when she ventured to Congo. Her style of writing is easy to follow, and a handy list of “key terms” are in the back of the book to help readers remember important names, abbreviations, and foreign words. Lisa’s tidbits about her personal life are just as interesting as the stories of her Congalese “sisters”, and a pivotal factor in why this cause is so meaningful to her.

Jennifer graduated from the University of Utah with a BA in English. She occasionally dabbles with her own fiction writing, particularly with the Young Adult and Paranormal genres. She currently resides in Utah with her husband and daughter.

Giveaway:

I have 2 hardcover copies of A Thousand Sisters to give away!

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Review and giveaway copies were provided free of any obligation by Seal Press. No monetary or any other form of compensation was received.