Mor, an 11-year-old Senegalese boy, faces many obstacles as he tries to keep his family together after his parents die.
Mor is grieving his father’s recent death when he begins hearing his father’s voice and seeing his dead mother. At first he is distressed, but eventually the visions and voices become sources of strength and comfort. Mor is determined to care for his two younger sisters as his father wants him to, but he needs to prove he is capable. The biggest threat to their safety is a gang of seemingly fearless bullies. When Mor finds out that his former best friend is a part of the gang, he is tempted to join as well to gain their protection instead of being their target. Can he keep his family together without giving up his integrity? In her debut, Henderson paints a detailed picture of life in Senegal. The author’s experience, research, and sensitivity shine, making this distinctive novel a valuable addition to the literature. While the book’s universal themes of familial love, determination, and growing up will appeal to many, it’s not for every reader. The story is slow to gain momentum, and two characters—the spirit of Mor’s father and an odd fisherman who takes Mor under his wing—impart guidance and wisdom in poetic, sometimes-obscure language.
A book that rewards patient, sensitive readers willing to dive in. (Fiction. 10-13)