COLD WHITE SUN by Sue Farrell Holler
Kirkus Star


Age Range: 14 & up
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Based on interviews with a man who started life as the son of a powerful Addis Ababa businessman, this novel traces the story of one refugee in Canada.

“Tesfaye” (names were changed to protect relatives back in Ethiopia) spent his early years caring only about doing well in school to please his father, playing with his brothers, and trying to eat before his sisters shooed him away. Born around the time of the Great Famine, Tesfaye recalls the early 1990s, when he had to be inside before dark because the world was dangerous after nightfall. When rebel soldiers forced their way into the family compound, Tesfaye found his life changed irrevocably. Later, after his father was arrested for anti-government activities and Tesfaye’s name was added to a wanted list for helping him distribute pamphlets, he began a long, taxing journey first to Kenya and, eventually, to Canada. Holler (Lacey and the African Grandmothers, 2009, etc.) transforms his story into an emotionally gripping work of fiction. The details of his difficult and harrowing life will wrap readers up in Tesfaye’s emotions—his joys, fears, and anxieties—showing them the world through his senses. The care taken with this narrative is apparent on every page; readers cannot help but feel for Tesfaye and others like him who must sacrifice so much for survival and safety.

A profound, heartbreaking narrative filled with loss, confusion, displacement, and longing. (map, author’s note, information about Ethiopia) (Fiction. 14-adult)

Pub Date: March 1st, 2019
ISBN: 978-1-77306-081-1
Page count: 288pp
Publisher: Groundwood
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1st, 2019


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