Monday, September 20, 2010

Alexandria of Africa by Eric Walters

Alexandria is a 15 year old spoiled, rich girl. She lives in California and spends her time partying, hanging with her friends and shopping on Rodeo Drive. Even though she has tons of money, Alexandria shoplifts just for the thrill of it. When she is caught, Alexandria goes in front of an angry judge who decides to make an example of her. For her sentence, the judge sends her to Africa to build a school for some children there. Alexandria heads off to Africa complete with all of her accessories, make-up and expensive clothes. What she doesn't realize is how these three weeks will challenge her, scare her and change her life. While there, Alexandria meets and befriends some Maasai warriors who teach her about what is really important in life.
This is another great hit by Walters. This book is based on the work of Free The Children. My only complaint is that I wish the main character had been set in Canada. Having a spoiled rich girl from California seems very stereotypical. There are kids here in Canada who are certainly just like Alexandria and who need to be faced with the reality of other cultures as well.

Beverly Hills Maasai by Eric Walters

This is the sequel to Alexandria of Africa and takes place 8 months after Alexandria had a life changing trip to Kenya.

Alexandria has now been home for 8 months, she is trying to find peace with how she should live her life after seeing how people live in Kenya. There are times when it is very difficult to take what is expected of her in California and compare it to life in Africa.

One day, she gets a strange phone call from her Kenyan friend Nebala who is in California with some other friends. Things have not gone very well in Kenya since Alexandria left, there has been no rain and people and cattle are starving. The only solution for the three Maasai warriors is to compete and win at the Beverly Hills marathon. This win will mean they can build a well in their village, which will save lives and improving living conditions.

Alexandria, her friend Olivia and her family face some challenges in not only getting the Maasai into the marathon, but also the adjustment they face living in such a different culture.

I liked this book as well as the first one. It is always interesting to see how characters change from earlier books. Watching Alexandria try to teach her African friends what life is like in California was funny, and yet Walters uses these moments to point out what is really important in life.