(Here's the Writing Blog post. I talk some about tone.)
As bad as you might think things are where you live, if you live in the United States, chances are you have things pretty good. Heck, if you're reading this, you've got things very good indeed.
Compared, at least, to people who live in the poorer parts of Africa.
The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind is both a sober reminder of this fact and the autobiographical tale of how one young man managed to bring hope and light to his family and community during hard times, despite being forced to drop out of (the frankly already inadequate) school by financial woes, and using his own intelligence to do so.
Using nothing but his trial-and-error learning in electronics and a few science textbooks granted to a local library, William Kamkwamba was able to use junk, scavenged parts, and a few gifts from his friends to build a windmill, a device never before seen in his home country of Malawi, despite famine and hardship.
And he did this by the time he was twenty. (He's only in his early twenties today.)
So, if you want to learn about the harsh parts of Africa in the present, and an uplifting ending, this is a good book.