A young woman, fresh from half a year as an aid worker in Uganda, steps into the darkness of an early December morning and vanishes.
Just 22 years old, Lily Bennett had followed in her Aunt Sabine’s footsteps. Sabine, too, had traveled to Africa, working at various NGOs for 18 years. Now home in Germany, working for an animal shelter, Sabine receives a troubling call from Lily’s stepfather, who reports that Lily missed her flight home. Lily is lost. Knowing that the local police will be understaffed and undermotivated to investigate the possibly voluntary disappearance of an adult American, Sabine sets off to search for Lily herself. In Uganda, Sabine joins forces with Christoph, a Swiss cultural anthropologist, and his assistant, Rose Akulu, a Ugandan woman whose lover, Ocen, has also disappeared. Their investigation swiftly turns dangerous, however, as Sabine learns that Lily may have tried to intervene in the illegal ivory trade conducted by Joseph Kony’s Lord’s Resistance Army, the rebel group at war with Uganda’s government and feared for turning the kidnapped into child soldiers and wives. Worse, it seems that Ocen may have accompanied Lily on her quest. Rose knows the dangers they are walking into, because years ago she survived—minus her right arm—being abducted into the LRA. Yet she can't let slip the opportunity to rescue Ocen’s twin brother, Opiyo, the one she loved first. Traveling back into Kony’s realm, however, will cost far more than anyone anticipated. In this, her debut novel, Williams skillfully sketches the emotionally ravaged remains of Rose’s life, a life ruined by not only physical mutilation, but also social rejection; even her brother calls her a “rebel whore,” blaming her for her own abduction. Entwining Rose’s journey with Sabine’s, Williams underscores the international scope of Uganda’s plight.
Politics exact a devastating personal price in this harrowing journey.