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Publisher's Summary

Each story in this jubilantly acclaimed collection pays testament to the wisdom and resilience of children, even in the face of the most agonizing circumstances.

A family living in a makeshift shanty in urban Kenya scurries to find gifts of any kind for the impending Christmas holiday. A Rwandan girl relates her family's struggles to maintain a facade of normalcy amid unspeakable acts. A young brother and sister cope with their uncle's attempt to sell them into slavery. Aboard a bus filled with refugees - a microcosm of today's Africa - a Muslim boy summons his faith to bear a treacherous ride across Nigeria. Through the eyes of childhood friends the emotional toll of religious conflict in Ethiopia becomes viscerally clear.

Uwem Akpan's debut signals the arrival of a breathtakingly talented writer who gives a matter-of-fact reality to the most extreme circumstances in stories that are nothing short of transcendent.

©2009 Uwem Akpan (P)2009 Hachette

Critic Reviews

"All the promise and heartbreak of Africa today are brilliantly illuminated in this debut collection." ( Seattle Post-Intelligencer)

What members say

Average Customer Ratings

Overall

  • 3.5 out of 5 stars
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Performance

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Story

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Sort by:
  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Sophia
  • MARGATE, FL, United States
  • 05-02-11

Highly Recommended!!!

This book invokes so many different emotions. I makes you wonder how much of it is fiction because the narrators did such a wonderful job at reading the story that one would think that they were telling their own life stories. I love this book and I recommend it.

3 of 3 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

Ugly but Beautiful

I picked this up because of a review I heard on NPR, not because of anything to do with Oprah, but I almost feel like I must have listened to a different book than the other reviewers. The stories were fresh and engaging. Akpan is a morbid O'Henry, or maybe a Rhole Dahl (as in his adult stories, not Charlie and the Chocolate Factory). If I had any criticisms of this book they would be that first, I knew where each train wreck was headed (though like a train wreak I could not look away) and second that I could see where someone could have a hard time with the ascent of the first narrator (though it makes sense for an African to narrate a story of an African child). I loved this book.

6 of 7 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    2 out of 5 stars
  • Michal
  • Scotsdale, AZ, United States
  • 11-20-09

Save your Money!

I downloaded this book because Oprah recommended it. I had to FORCE myself to finish it. It was boring, and I just never actually cared about the characters. Not that the stories weren't tragic, but I was bored beyond belief. I kept looking at my I-phone to see how much was left. I do not recommend this book.

38 of 53 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    1 out of 5 stars
  • Jill
  • Ocean Shores, WA, United States
  • 05-02-10

Hard to follow

I listen to at least one audio book a week and this one was very hard to follow. I didn't finish it

8 of 11 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    2 out of 5 stars
  • Magda
  • Naples, FL, USA
  • 12-08-09

its boring

I downloaded this book for all the promotion I heard in Oprah show. It's not as good as they said it was.

22 of 32 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

Profound storyline

This is an outstanding book that makes you want to cry for the protection of the children.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    3 out of 5 stars

Just Couldn't Get Into It

I chose to try this book because it was one of Oprah's book club selections. I usually don't listen to book club selections of any kind. It was obviously a well written book and well read by the narrator. It was mildly interesting. I managed to plod through most of the stories, but I just couldn't get into the book enough to finish it.

2 of 5 people found this review helpful