Publisher's Note:  

What does it mean to be loyal?


Mathew and Mugo, two boys—one white, one black—share an uneasy friendship in Kenya in the 1950s. They're friends even though Mathew's dad owns the land and everything on it. They're friends despite the difference in their skin color. And they're friends in the face of the growing Mau Mau rebellion, which threatens British settlers with violence as black Kenyans struggle to win back their land and freedom. But suspicions and accusations are escalating, and an act of betrayal could change everything.


Internationally acclaimed, award-winning author Beverley Naidoo explores the fragile bonds of friendship in this stunning novel about prejudice, fear, and the circumstances that bring people together—and tear them apart.

Burn My Heart

by Beverley Naidoo

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Overall Review:  

Loyalty to your friends and family, loyalty to your people, loyalty to your land, what does all of this mean for two young boys growing up in Kenya during the early 1950's? Although the characters are imagined, much of the historical facts mingled within the story are not. Enlightening as it is engaging, Burn My Heart informs readers of the Mau Mau rebellion and the state of emergency declared in Kenya in the early 1950's.


Told between the alternating perspectives of Mathew and Mugo, the story beautifully integrates readers into the harsh realities of the ominous effects that fear mixed with hatred can create. Readers will likely identify with both boys as their story of struggle unfolds. It also builds strong character development as the pair face internal conflicts and moral dilemmas.


Intended for middle grade to high school age audience, Burn My Heart is still a fantastic read for adults as it's complexities and intriguing outline bypass any age restrictions.


Admittedly, there is no neatly wrapped ending, but there will be closure for those readers who can be satisfied with the author's form of stylistic poetic outcome. Revealing and never overly dramatized, Burn My Heart is a perfect novel for readers looking for historical fiction that is an insightful and heartfelt view on injustice, friendship, and political as well as personal battles.


Readers who enjoy Burn My Heart may appreciate checking out author Beverley Naidoo's other novels that which are set in Africa and like Burn My Heart explore the social, political, and racial difficulties of the country.

Content Analysis:  

Profanity/Language: 10 mild obscenities.

Violence/Gore:  About 2 scenes in which characters hunt animals; brief scene of character being hit a number of times; brief scene characters are hit with clubs; characters are verbally threatened with death; brief report of farmer whipping a servant; 2 reports of murder; report of beating; characters inflict wounds on themselves as part of an initiation; character is verbally threatened; character can hear a prisoner being tortured; brief scene of character being water boarded; extended scene (about 3 pages) reports of violence during the Emergency declared in Kenya from 1952-1960.


Sex/Nudity:  None

Mature Subject Matter:  

Civil unrest, prejudice, secret society, unjust imprisonment bullying.

Alcohol / Drug Use:  

A few brief scenes in which adults drink whiskey and smoke.

Reviewed By MaryLou
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