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"A smaller percentage of 17 year olds saw adults reading in their homes in 1999 than in 1984."
Publisher: Amistad, a Division of HarperCollins Childrens Books,
Material: hard cover
Summary: Having fled Nigeria and resettled in London, Femi and Sade thought they would finally be safe. While Sade is dealing with her mother's death and the possible intrusion of a "new woman" in their lives, Femi is getting more and more involved with a street gang. It isn't long before their resilience as individuals and as a family are once again put to the test. This is a novel that allows you to journey with the characters (and their father) as they deal with the presence of a gang in their lives. This is a high interest / low readability book for young adults.
Type of Reading: family reading, independent reading, read aloud book
Recommended Age: read together: 10 and Up; read yourself: 12 and Up
Young Reader Reaction: This book shows a harsh reality for some children worldwide. While global cultures differ based on geography and customs, Ms. Naidoo has a way of making the story of two Nigerian refugees, Femi and Sade, aged 10 and 12, universal, if the reader makes the connection that many people today face the same problems of fleeing their homeland in hopes of a better life only to encounter a harsh welcome where they land. I would recommend this book as a read for teen-aged readers. It would be a good book for stimulating a discussion on global current events and what's happening to displaced citizens. The story of Sade, Femi, and their family shows how humanity can respond to those in need when crises occur. It is one of those tragic stories that has a decent outcome.
Adult Reader Reaction: This is an intriguing story on many levels. You've seen these individuals in your neighborhood...yet they are not stereotypes of the teenager we see on TV and in movies. This is a very worthwhile read, even if you don't have kids.
Pros: The story is believable, offering stark but not exaggerated descriptions of the realities of life. Once you start, you will want to finish the book.
Cons: There are points where the story seems to slow down a bit.
Borrow or Buy: Borrow, at least. This is book that teens and parents will want to share, possibly even read a second or third time to get all the details beyond the Femi plot.
Educational Themes: Although the story focuses on Femi and gang life, there are other layers that offer further exploration: immigration; wars in Africa (specifically Sierra Leone and Nigeria); and family dynamics (e.g., life without Mom). Teens would be well served by reading and talking about this book.
Notes: Sequel to Carnegie Medal Winner The Other Side of Truth
Literary Categories: fiction - young adult, family, coming of age, death and loss, multicultural