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Reviewed by Ruffina Oserio for Readers' Favorite
A Tale of the Builder by Jonathan Hatendi is an interesting story that follows the life of Mawara, who started off in a very unusual manner and grew up to be a respectable rural builder, a man who went to school at an older age. From the very beginning the narrator warns that it was hard to tell his real age because of his small size, which made him look younger than he actually was. The reader follows this compelling character through the different periods of his life, from getting enrolled in school to dropping out, from doing odd jobs to finally getting the connections required to fulfill his dream, to building a business that would earn him the respect of many people. Follow his story to its tragic end.
This is a simple story beautifully told, a story that features powerful cultural and historical elements. For instance, I never knew that the educational system started with Sub-A, then Sub-B and moved on to Standard 1, and this narrative helps readers see what it was like to go to school during the era of the protagonist. Here is a powerful image that comes out from the story: “Mawara was one of those slow ones. The counting of sticks was presenting him with major problems. The sticks never seemed to do what they were supposed to do, whether it be adding them up or taking some away.” This tale is infused with a lot of humanity, and readers will enjoy following its protagonist, a man who can easily blend in and one who never feared to stand out. A Tale of the Builder is sweet, offering vivid images to readers, and delighting them with experiences of a rural community.