Thousand Hills to Heaven, A

Ruxin, Josh

  11 Reviews

Many of the world's humanitarian efforts have been focused on Africa. How can those in emerging economies not just survive but thrive? And how can a country with scars as deep as Rwanda's be healed? These were just some of the questions dangled tantlisingly in front of newly weds Josh and Alissa Ruxin at a party on a Manhattan rooftop. Could they really make a difference in a country with such a troubled recent history? They had no idea but got on a plane anyway, determined to try.

In Kigali, Josh began working from the ground up to bring food and health care to the country's villages. Alissa drew on her foodie expertise, and together they opened Heaven, a gourmet restaurant overlooking Kigali and its famous hills. It's now an international dining destination, but getting there was tough. Josh and Alissa had to work with a staff that had never even eaten in a restaurant and had to form a true team from people whose relatives had fought one another less than twenty years before - all while raising their own three children in the centre of Africa.

In New York City, Josh and Alissa never could have imagined that their path to making a difference would lead not just to fields and clinics but to a kitchen and the best guacamole in Africa. Helping Rwandans create their own success, they have put in place a lasting model for achievement. Their efforts are deeply emblematic of the entire nation's stunning progress during the last two decades. Rwanda is today a country that proudly sees an end to poverty on the horizon and has, against all odds, moved from tragedy to triumph. [Taken from book cover.]

Comments from Groups

A great read. Everyone found the book very interesting. We all learned a lot about Rwanda, and the book sparked a very lively discussion. Palmerston North 001

An interesting book that raises a lot of questions about aid to developing nations. Set in Rwanda, parts of the book are, not surprisingly, harrowing, but it focuses on the future, not the past brutality, and is a surprisingly positive and uplifting book. Christchurch 299

An excellent read. One of our members e-mailed Alissa at Heaven, and received an instant reply. They are still there, and their little boy is now 5 years old. Josh is working for a different organisation now. Great discussion. Stratford 001

We all thought this was an important and worthwhile read. It was shocking to read a little of the genocide in Rwanda, and also inspiring to read about the country's process of healing and recovery. Our discussion went in many different directions; so a very thought provoking read. As host, the recipes were great for supper!! We can recommend the "South of the Equator", and the Nutmeg cake! Mapua 001

We enjoyed the book. We found it an easy read, and it gave us a great insight into the country of Rwanda. For many of us, the book has inspired an interest in Rwanda and its history. Some of us found the constant reference to the USA as the gold standard quite irritating, and we have a slight cynicism towards the situation where the author was dealing with ongoing poverty, while his wife was angsting over quality food and service in the restaurant. We thought it was good that, although the book is set against the backdrop of genocide, it still didn't dwell on it, or allow it to overshadow the story. Pukeko 001

A thoroughly hopeful account of how aid can be successfully dispensed. Recommended by our group. Nelson 051

This book was enjoyed by our whole group. We enjoyed the writing style, and we liked that it wasn't wholly about the genocide but also showed the good that is happening within Rwanda. We learnt a lot about the Tutsi and the Hutu, and how much Belgium had to answer for by dividing the nation. We liked the food descriptions, and we would all like to visit Heaven for a meal, then go on to see the gorillas. Christchurch 196



NELS 075
A fabulous read providing both insight and history to the genocide in Rwanda. I particularly liked his 5 rules for sustainable development and the insistence on using local people. A couple in our group found him arrogant but most of us didn't agree.
WELL 215
Really interesting and a worthwhile read. We all enjoyed learning about another place and the challenges people there face. It prompted great discussion. Also, a title that many of us admitted we probably wouldn't have picked up normally so broadening our reading base!
CHCH 095
Everyone enjoyed this book and agreed that it was a great example of how international aid can be successful and sustainable for the long-term. An easy read and a couple have copied a few of the recipes provided!
CHCH 423
We all really enjoyed this book - writing style and content. Interesting and inspiring.
Mixed reviews; no one particularly liked the style but some appreciated the insight into the recent sad history of Rwanda, and the measured approach to sustainable aid in the developing world.
TAUR 005
We all enjoyed this book and saw it as a description of a "blueprint" for providing aid. Helping others to be self sufficient and confident to continue on their own. A worthwhile discussion indeed!
NELS 056
We thoroughly enjoyed reading about the author's incredible achievements.....although none of us particularly warmed to his character.
All enjoyed the book. One of our members had recently visited Rwanda and had eaten at Heaven Restaurant, so we were treated to a great slideshow as well.
TAKA 003
Everyone agreed the topic was interesting, very informative and well worth learning about. The parts about the genocide were confronting but necessary, and the author didn't dwell on them too much. Several found the author a little arrogant (very privileged background) while conceding that he had made an amazing difference to conditions in Rwanda.
Another great read to finish the year. We all so appreciated the book. Harrowing at times, but also very inspirational showing how foreign aid SHOULD be spent.
FOXT 002
Enjoyed by all - an inspirational read. Two of us in the group are going to purchase a copy each so our families can read it too.