MAMBA POINT by Kurtis Scaletta
Kirkus Star


Age Range: 11 - 14
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Scaletta’s expertly voiced narrative offers an experience of Africa—specifically, Monrovia, Liberia, in 1982—through the eyes of Linus, a Dayton, Ohio, seventh grader whose family has just arrived for a diplomatic posting. Self-conscious and more than a little bit anxious, Linus is ready to embrace his more courageous side. Amazingly, his braver version turns out to have a surprising spiritual connection to the deadly, rarely seen black mamba. The culture, politics and economy of 1980s Liberia are conveyed through the clear-eyed but skewed filter of Linus’s young understanding. The sights, smells and sounds compete nearly equally for Linus’s attention with his desire for friends and his delight in his family’s acquisition of a new Atari system. The author gets exactly right the mix of the familiar and the entirely unfamiliar as well as the terror that makes even close encounters with the world’s deadliest snake only an also-ran next to looming adolescence. Linus eventually begins to sort out his place in the world—or at least in his area of influence—in a tale tinted with magical realism that is by turns scary and very funny. (Fiction. 11-14)

Pub Date: July 13th, 2010
ISBN: 978-0-375-86180-2
Page count: 288pp
Publisher: Knopf
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15th, 2010


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