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NO LAUGHTER HERE by Rita Williams-Garcia Kirkus Star

NO LAUGHTER HERE

By Rita Williams-Garcia

Age Range: 10 - 16

Pub Date: Jan. 1st, 2004
ISBN: 0-688-16247-9
Publisher: HarperCollins

This exquisitely written short novel tackles an enormous and sensitive subject. Ten-year-old Akilah waits for her friend Victoria to return to Queens from a summer trip to Victoria’s birthplace, Nigeria. But when Victoria returns, she’s different. She won’t leave her house or even say hello. Eventually she returns to school but gives only one-word answers; she seems wilted and stunned. Where is her laughter, her sharp wit, her academic sparkle? Akilah stays confused until Victoria finally talks: in complete ignorance, she was taken by her family to Nigeria specifically to undergo female genital mutilation. As Akilah, sickened, begins to comprehend, so does the reader. Williams-Garcia pulls no punches: the operation’s consequences are clearly explained, not gratuitously but for truth. Eye-opening and grounded solidly in the present, this piece has absolutely non-generic characters and allows a shocking subject various points of view (all black) without sacrificing a moral compass. Unapologetic, fresh, and painful. (author’s note) (Fiction. 10-16)