Tuesday, July 8, 2008
A Girl Named Disaster by Nancy Farmer
I recommend this book for: middle and high school
Nhamo, whose name literally means "Disaster", lives in a small Shona village in Mozambique with her grandmother and aunts and uncles. Her mother was killed by a leopard when she was young, and she has never met her father. When a corrupt healer promises her family that the sickness in their village will end if they marry Nhamo to a cruel man who already has 3 wives, her grandmother tells her to flee to Zimbabwe, to find her father. She makes it sound simple, but the journey is far longer and more difficult than either of them could have imagined.
Nhamo sets out with a boat and supplies for a few days, but she gets set adrift and lost. She discovers islands where she can find supplies, but they are also inhabited by dangers both physical and spiritual. Her struggle to survive and get to Zimbabwe is complicated by damage to the boat, baboons, a witch named Long Teats and other African spirits, landmines, and Nhamo's own fears - and leaving a small traditional village for a city in 1981 provides its share of culture shock. She pulls through using her own intelligence, the help of spirits and her ancestors, and by telling stories to pass the time - one of my favorite parts of this book. A great read.