Burn My Heart

Mathew grasped the gun, repeating his thanks without looking up at Mugo’s face. He had made such a fool of himself and Mugo knew it. If Father found out, each would be in terrible trouble….

‘It’s our secret, hey?’ Mathew said awkwardly.

‘Ndio,’ Mugo said quietly. Yes. His fez tilted with the slight nod. It was their secret.

Mathew and Mugo. Two boys living on the same Kenyan land share an uneasy friendship. They live in a time when white and black means rich and poor – and a secret society, called the Mau Mau, want their land and freedom back.

Soon no-one knows who to trust and Mathew and Mugo are caught in the middle. Violence and suspicion are spreading. One day, fire breaks out on Mathew’s family farm, with terrifying consequences.

…it gave me an insight into a past that I knew nothing about. The writing, personal and clever, made me empathise with all of the characters, for all of them had individual stories. This is a book I will never forget.
– Red House Reader Naomi Fitzpatrick (13 yrs)

…a tale of betrayal that does indeed burn your heart.
– Sunday Times, UK

…compulsively readable.
– The Independent, UK

…a highly effective evocation of that period when the wind of change began to blow through Africa… frequently exciting and often deeply moving.
– Books for Keeps (5 star review)

Burn My Heart moves, enlightens and reminds us about a time in British colonial history, a time of African struggle, that helps us to understand how things are now with a little more insight. And, most of all, it is a fine story of friendship, trust, betrayal and loss.
– The Guardian, UK

The friendship story is haunting… Many readers will find parallels to contemporary questions about the differences between terrorists and freedom fighters.
– Starred review, American Library Association Booklist

…sheds light on a dark period of rebellion and repression.
– Starred review, Kirkus, USA

The narrative is heart-stopping… The story will speak powerfully to readers concerned about justice and human rights, as well as those simply looking for a well-told story.
– Starred review, School Library Journal, USA

International Reading Association Notable Book for a Global Society, 2010

African Studies Association Children's Africana Book Award (Honor Book Older Readers), USA 2010

ALA Booklist Youth Editors’ Choice and Top 10 Historical Fiction for Youth, USA 2009

New York Public Library's 100 Titles for Reading and Sharing, USA 2009

Chicago Public Library Best of the Best Books, USA 2009

Read Beverley Naidoo’s speech at the 2010 Children’s Africana Book Awards

Listen to the speech here


Read an interview with Beverley Naidoo on Burn My Heart

Burn My Heart has also been adapted as a stage play.