It is 1994. Rosie—a 17-year-old Irish girl—has been sent to look after her Rwandan grandmother. Callie—an 18-year-old Canadian girl—is looking forward to volunteering for an aid organisation in Rwanda. Both are going to Rwanda to escape their lives at home.
Neither Callie nor Rosie is prepared for Rwanda. Nor do they want to see how similar they are, despite their different backgrounds and experiences. They are both struggling with questions of where they fit, and who they truly are.
When the Rwandan president’s plane is shot down, sparking the most horrific genocide in history, they are forced to face fundamental truths. Rosie must learn to lead, and fight to survive. Callie must accept that she cannot make the world as she would wish it. And then there is Blessing, the 11-year-old Rwandan who wins the heart of both Rosie and Callie…
Cover art © Aboudia, with the gracious permission of the artist
About Kim Hood
Kim Hood about writing They All Fall Down
It was November 1995. I was 25 years old and I was on the Uganda/Rwandan border, backpacking through Africa. I was not wondering if there were still bodies scattered around the place less than a year and a half after one of the worst genocides in history. I had seen the horrific news coverage the year before, but it just didn’t enter my thoughts. I ended up living in Africa (Malawi) for nearly three years. I found a teaching job and rented a modest hut in a township much the same as where Rosie’s grandmother lived, and in my time there experienced the complexities of African life as an expatriate.
Several years later, I went to a lecture given by Romeo Dallaire, the Canadian General who had been in charge of the UN presence in Rwanda at the time of the 1994 genocide, and I will never forget those two hours. It wasn’t the details of the horrific things he witnessed—but his utter devastation at how the west had been so complicit in allowing the killings to happen.
When scenes like that of a small refugee child washed up on Greek shores started dominating social media—and then disappearing within a week—it made me think of 1995, when I had “forgotten” about the news coverage of Rwanda only a year prior. Why do we forget so quickly? Why is it so difficult for us to relate to human tragedy that is not to do with us? How does our definition of us and them influence our capacity to relate, and to have lasting empathy? And for many in the world—immigrants, refugees, expats—are we us or they? These are ideas I wanted to explore in this novel.
After extensive research of the genocide, I travelled to Rwanda in February 2017 to see where some of the saddest atrocities in recent history occurred. The result is They All Fall Down.
“A grim tale, beautifully written. […] I recommend this book as an absorbing and powerful read on a difficult subject and applaud Kim Hood for (once more) not playing it safe.” ~Susan Lanigan, author of White Feathers
“Kim Hood writes unflinchingly and in searing prose of this unforgettable horror… […] The author also touches on the failure of humanity in Rwanda. The failure of the wholly inadequate reactions of the international humanitarian organizations and foreign governments. For the haunted survivors, it is as the narrator Marlow remarks in Joseph Conrad’s Heart of Darkness: ‘It was not my strength that needed nursing, it was my imagination that wanted soothing.'” ~Marvin Minkler of Modern First Editions