From the dark world of illegal immigration comes Kobla’s uplifting yet unsettling novel that helps put a human face on the millions of migrants around the globe.
Safe in our houses in America, we sometimes look to our borders and see the increasing number of immigrants entering the country. Too often, a feeling of resentment overcomes the citizenry. In his debut novel, Kobla forces us to view the world as immigrants do, showing how that breed of anger is a global phenomenon. In a necessary exile to spare their lives, four sisters leave their home in East Africa. They travel together disguised as boys, but the unforgiving passage from country to country, over mountains and seas, rends them apart in unthinkable ways. Unfortunately, Kobla sometimes tells instead of shows (“The old clock ticked in the background of the tense atmosphere”), and early on it’s somewhat odd for 13-year-old Talima to comment so intelligently about the challenges that await the sisters in the “four Sharia law-infested countries” they must traverse. But what Kobla lacks in polished prose he more than makes up for in storytelling. The fate of the girls and the hardships they endure are bigger and more powerful than the words on the page. Aside from a few dips in pace (especially in too many chapters dedicated to a character named Lucy), the novel never lets the reader sit too long in the unfriendly surroundings. Every road is paved with deception, cruelty and fear—a constant struggle to cling to hope. Kobla surprises readers with betrayals and misfortunes that are sadly realistic in many parts of the world.
Not a happy story, but an inspiring journey to find a home.