Thursday, May 22, 2014

3 YA Novels To Help Us Remember Our Nigerian Girls

I've been reading The Locust Effect: Why the End of Poverty Requires the End of Violence by Gary Haugen and Victor Boutros, which makes a strong case against the atrocities of gender violence. Yesterday I ran across this troubling article from ThinkProgress explaining how the world quickly stopped caring about the kidnapped Nigerian girls, and this opinion in the Telegraph that hashtag campaigns may fail by giving the perpetrators exactly what they want: global publicity.

There's another way to keep our minds and hearts focused on the true protagonists of this horrible event—through the power of fiction. Here are three great reads that can connect us to the girls themselves as we hope and pray for their release.

 No Laughter Here (Harper) by Rita Williams-Garcia

Even though they were born in different countries, Akilah and Victoria are true best friends. But Victoria has been acting strange ever since she returned from her summer in Nigeria, where she had a special coming-of-age ceremony. Why does proud Victoria, named for a queen, slouch at her desk and answer the teacher's questions in a whisper? And why won't she laugh with Akilah anymore?  Akilah's name means "intelligent," and she is determined to find out what's wrong, no matter how much detective work she has to do. But when she learns the terrible secret Victoria is hiding, she suddenly has even more questions. The only problem is, they might not be the kind that have answers.

"This exquisitely written short novel tackles an enormous and sensitive subject… Unapologetic, fresh and painful." — Kirkus Reviews (Starred review)

"Combines a richly layered story with accurate, culturally specific information ..... [a] skillfully told, powerful story."— ALA Booklist (Starred review)

The Other Side of Truth (HarperTrophy) by Beverly Naidoo, winner of the Carnegie Medal.

A shot. Two shots at the gate in the early morning and a car screeches away down an avenue of palm trees. A tragedy - and a terrible loss for Sade and her younger brother Femi, children of an outspoken Nigerian journalist. Now terror is all around them and they must flee their country. At once. And alone. Plans for their journey have to be hastily arranged. Everything must be done in secret. But once Sade and Femi reach England, they will be safe - won't they?

"Totally gripping, somewhat shaming and entirely believable, this is an engrossing and thought-provoking read for 10-years-olds plus." — Sunday Telegraph

"Narrated with exceptional skill in a bracing, unadorned style…" — The Scotsman

"…an unforgettable novel." — The Times


Purple Hibiscus (Algonquin) by Chimamanda Adichie

Fifteen-year-old Kambili and her older brother Jaja lead a privileged life in Enugu, Nigeria. They live in a beautiful house, with a caring family, and attend an exclusive missionary school. They're completely shielded from the troubles of the world. Yet, as Kambili reveals in her tender-voiced account, things are less perfect than they appear. Although her Papa is generous and well respected, he is fanatically religious and tyrannical at home—a home that is silent and suffocating.

As the country begins to fall apart under a military coup, Kambili and Jaja are sent to their aunt, a university professor outside the city, where they discover a life beyond the confines of their father’s authority. Books cram the shelves, curry and nutmeg permeate the air, and their cousins’ laughter rings throughout the house. When they return home, tensions within the family escalate, and Kambili must find the strength to keep her loved ones together.

"Prose as lush as the Nigerian landscape that it powerfully evokes. . . . Adichie's understanding of a young girl's heart is so acute that her story ultimately rises above its setting and makes her little part of Nigeria seem as close and vivid as Eudora Welty's Mississippi." — The Boston Globe

"In a soft, searing voice, Adichie examines the complexities of family, faith and country through the haunted but hopeful eyes of a young girl on the cusp of womanhood. Lush, cadenced and often disconcerting. — Publishers Weekly

3 comments:

Asakiyume said...

I've been wondering which book by Chimamanda Adichie to start with--I think I'll make it this one.

Mary Malhotra said...

If you are interested in an approach that is YA speculative/adventure fiction rather than realistic cross-cultural, I just read "A Girl Called Fearless" by Catherine Linka, which forms a bridge of empathy (and outrage) between the day-to-day concerns of a privileged teen in the US and the situations women face around the world. The story begins in an alternate present-day Los Angeles after the decimation of a generation of American women has driven the formation of a paternalism movement. 16-year-old Avie is "protected" 24/7, and her education is curtailed. Can she escape a contract her father has signed, selling her into marriage with a man she hates?

Ballroom Dance Classes Seattle said...

i have gone through the book "the other side ....." and found it pretty interesting.

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