THE HEAVEN SHOP by Deborah Ellis


Age Range: 10 - 13
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This AIDS-in-Africa story, though occasionally poignant, smacks of intention. Thirteen-year-old Binti lives in Malawi with two siblings and her sickening father. When her father dies, uncles and aunts swoop down, claim the house and possessions, and remove Binti and her sister to one town and their brother to another. Binti’s new life is miserable, not just because she’s forced to relinquish her radio-acting job, but also because her relatives, mean-spirited and afraid of AIDS, scorn and neglect her. When her older sister runs away, Binti leaves too. She moves in with her kindhearted Gogo (grandmother), who’s running a tiny, poor shelter for AIDS orphans and children whose parents are sick. Binti slowly adjusts to this new life, and eventually both siblings join her there. AIDS, poverty, and prostitution are the subjects of this just-adequate “purpose piece.” Well-meant, but weakened by an overall feeling of educational message. Allan Stratton’s Chanda’s Secrets (p. 498) is far deeper and better written (though its African country is fictional). (author’s note, map, author interview) (Fiction. 10-13)

Pub Date: Sept. 1st, 2004
ISBN: 1-55041-908-0
Page count: 192pp
Publisher: Fitzhenry & Whiteside
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1st, 2004


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