Queen of Katwe by Tim Crothers

Making something out of nothing sounds physically impossible; however, I think we all enjoy a good story with an underdog who does exactly that. In the book Queen of Katwe by Tim Crothers, a man named Katende and his student Phiona are the underdogs. Battling through their many challenges, they make the best out of their lives in the Ugandan slums. But what they manage to achieve is what makes their story remarkable.
 

In the beginning of the book we are introduced to Katende and re-live his life and rough upcoming with him. We see his struggles and how, despite his misfortunes, he was determined to make life better through hard work and perseverance. As he got older he converted into Christianity and he started a program to reach out to the young kids in the slums. Using soccer, he was able to bring in and teach some of the kids, but he realized that the kids who either didn't play soccer or who just weren't interested were not being influenced. So he introduced a game that was so foreign, they did not have a word for it in their native language: chess. This is how he met Phiona.
Phiona is a strong willed, intelligent young girl. Katende sees her potential and helps start her on her journey through chess. She has a rough start in the program but ends up conquering her demons and finds that chess will take her places in her life she never thought she’d go or even knew existed. But it won't be easy. If she doesn't believe in herself and lets her fears get to her, it could ruin everything.  Her life becomes a series of ups and downs. She has to plan every move in advance and look at all the possible outcomes…just like in chess.


This eye opening story of a girl and her coach gives us a mind altering look into some of the lives in the Ugandan slums and the struggles that the people there face everyday. I found this story very insightful, allowing me to look into lives other than my own that I may have never had the chance to experience. It revealed to me that as a nation, we are blind to how well off we are. I loved the way the author shows, even though Phiona was taught to keep her head down in the slums, she can't help but let her childish normalities of being excited and proud show when she wins chess games. It was very easy to relate to her in that way.  But above that, I loved the way the author portrayed Phionas humbleness. I think everyone can learn a great lesson from the way Phiona acts towards the people and experiences in her life.
 






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