The Atlas of Forgotten Places Summary and Reviews

The Atlas of Forgotten Places

by Jenny D. Williams

The Atlas of Forgotten Places by Jenny D. Williams X
The Atlas of Forgotten Places by Jenny D. Williams
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  • Published in USA  Jul 2017
    368 pages
    Genre: Novels

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Book Summary

Vividly rendered by Jenny D. Williams, a fresh new voice in fiction, The Atlas of Forgotten Places delves deep into the heart of compassion and redemption. It spans geographies and generations to lay bare the stories that connect us all.

Two women from different worlds bound in a quest to save their loved ones.

After a long career as an aid worker, Sabine Hardt has retreated to her native Germany for a quieter life. But when her American niece Lily disappears while volunteering in Uganda, Sabine must return to places and memories she once thought buried in order to find her.

In Uganda, Rose Akulu - haunted by a troubled past with the Lord's Resistance Army and a family torn apart by war - is distressed when her lover Ocen vanishes without a trace. Side by side, Sabine and Rose must unravel the tangled threads that tie Lily and Ocen's lives together - ultimately discovering that the truth of their loved ones' disappearance is inescapably entwined to the secrets the two women carry.

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Reviews

Media Reviews

"Gritty and intricately plotted...Williams's book paints the contours of the real-life conflict admirably, making the thrilling disappearance story relatable with nuanced characterizations and a wealth of strong subplots concerning reclaiming love, protecting family, and guarding hope for a new future when the present seems to be teetering on disaster." - Publishers Weekly

"In this, her debut novel, Williams skillfully sketches the emotionally ravaged remains of Rose's life, a life ruined by not only physical mutilation, but also social rejection; even her brother calls her a "rebel whore," blaming her for her own abduction. Entwining Rose's journey with Sabine's, Williams underscores the international scope of Uganda's plight. Politics exact a devastating personal price in this harrowing journey." - Kirkus

"Jenny D. Williams' Atlas of Forgotten Places is an extraordinary debut. Written with confidence and compassion, masterfully plotted, her characters drawn in swift, sure strokes - this was a book I could not put down." - Marisa Handler, Nautilus Award-winning author of Loyal to the Sky

"Every page of The Atlas of Forgotten Places resonates with an intimate knowledge of life in 'Africa'...the impossible beauty of the landscape, the depths of sorrows carried by ordinary citizens, the miraculous melding of violence and personal grace. Jenny D. Williams has written that rare thing: a page-turning adventure story that simultaneously goes deep into the heart of what it is to be human and present." - Malla Nunn, award-winning screenwriter and author of A Beautiful Place to Die, Silent Valley, and Present Darkness

"A young American woman gone missing in Africa, her German aunt forced to revisit her own past. From these elements, Jenny Williams has produced a riveting alchemy. In the vein of Paul Bowles and Robert Stone, The Atlas of Forgotten Places is part political thriller, part love story, always attuned to matters of the heart. It's a splendid debut." - Joshua Henkin, author of The World Without You, Matrimony, and Swimming Across the Hudson

"I think Jenny Williams is a wonderfully gifted writer, who is at the beginning of a long and distinguished career." - Richard Bausch, author of Peace and Before, During, After, winner of the PEN/Malamud Award for Excellence, and a Guggenheim fellow

"A beautiful, heartbreaking story of civil war, family secrets, lost love and found hope. Unforgettable." - Lian Dolan, Los Angeles Times bestselling author

"The Atlas of Forgotten Places is a beautifully written, all-engulfing novel about our responsibility for each other and the faltering ways in which we try to help." - Erika Mailman, author of The Witch's Trinity

"The Atlas of Forgotten Places is a thriller that sweeps the reader into intrigue, adventure, and mystery. In the tradition of socially influential writers, from Shakespeare to Graham Greene, Jenny Williams employs exciting fiction to convey truths about the political, corporate, and economic systems that impact us all." - John Perkins, New York Times bestselling author of The New Confessions of an Economic Hit Man and The Secret History of the American Empire

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Reader Reviews

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Diane S.

Atlas of forgotten places
Sabine had been an aid worker in various parts of Africa for over fourteen years, but now in her forties she is working in her native Germany. Her niece Lily, following in her footsteps has been working in Uganda, at a center that helps victims that had been taken by Joseph Kony, trying to help them reintegrate into life out of captivity. When she goes missing in Uganda, Sabine returns to try to retrace her nieces footsteps, and bring her home.

With two people she meets in Uganda we follow Sabine from Uganda to the Congo, Garamba National Park and into the heart of one of Kony's camps. This is an intense look at a country being torn apart by various factions, and a story that had me in it's grip almost from the beginning. I kept telling myself, it is only a story, but in fact it is and it isn't. Although the characters are the authors invention, many of the situations and danger they find themselves in are fact. The kidnappings, the killings, the gold mine and the ivory poaching are also all fact. I am a big lover of elephants and there are some sad moments , and astonishing ones concerning these great but empathic animals.

The characters were well done, as was the writing. An authors nite is included which provided additional information and suggestion for further reading. The greed of man knows no bounds.

lani

A stunner
Every once in a while, along comes a novel that won't leave you, that keeps you up at night contemplating important questions.Williams has constructed a novel that fits beautifully into this category. Based on real and imagined events set in the DNC and Uganda, this novel follows Sabine, a burned out aid worker who currently works in an animal shelter in Germany, Rose, a one armed Ugandan woman who was formerly abducted by the Lord's Resistance Army, and Lily, a young girl doing volunteer work in Uganda, and Sabine's niece. When Lily does not return home as scheduled, Sabine races to Africa to see if she can find her, fearing the worst. What follows is a tromp through LRA battlegrounds, fighting through bureaucratic minefields with Rose and her boss.Both Rose and Sabine are looking for someone lost in their lives that they care deeply about. Williams has achingly sketched the principal characters with such a fine point pen, that they leap off the page, making us invested in their futures.There is so much to discuss and learn in this book that it is perfect for book groups. My only gripe is the open ended conclusion to the book, which left me angry as I needed more closure. However, it is a small price to pay for a book of such depth..

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Author Information

Jenny D. Williams

Jenny D. Williams has lived in the U.S., Uganda, and Germany. She holds an MFA from Brooklyn College and a BA from UC Berkeley. Her award-winning fiction, nonfiction, poetry, and illustrations have been published in The Sun Magazine, Vela, and Ethical Traveler, as well as several anthologies. A former Teachers & Writers Collaborative fellow and recipient of an Elizabeth George Foundation grant for emerging writers, she currently lives in Seattle with her husband and dog. The Atlas of Forgotten Places is her first novel.

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