In this Canadian import, 9-year-old Konisola must adjust to a new life in Canada when she and her mother flee Nigeria.
Konisola is playing with her friends in the schoolyard in Nigeria when her mother appears at the gate, rushing her into a car and then directly into the airport. She hasn’t seen her mother in almost a week, since the night when her abusive uncle beat her. Now they are secretly flying to Canada, where they depend on the kindness of strangers for shelter. When her mother ends up in the hospital with advanced cancer, Konisola moves in with Darlene, one of her nurses, and begins attending school. But how long will Darlene’s existing family tolerate having a troubled refugee staying in their home? And will the immigration hearing allow Konisola to stay in Canada? The story is compelling and gives a sense of the uncertainties and difficult decisions that refugees face when they flee dangerous home situations. The generosity of the Canadians who help them is inspiring, especially since this is based on a true story. Unfortunately, the third-person present-tense narration, which awkwardly shifts perspectives between Konisola and the adults who care for her, treats the subject superficially, never quite delving deep enough into the emotions and relationships that make up Konisola’s world, including, critically, Konisola’s Muslim faith.
This slim book serves a purpose—just—until immigration stories that do the subject justice arrive on the scene. (Fiction. 8-12)