Even though they were born in different countries, Akilah and Victoria are true best friends. But Victoria has been acting strange ever since she returned from her summer in Nigeria, where she had a special coming-of-age ceremony. Why does proud Victoria, named for a queen, slouch at her desk and answer the teacher's questions in a whisper? And why won't she laugh with Akilah anymore?
Akilah's name means "intelligent," and she is determined to find out what's wrong, no matter how much detective work she has to do. But when she learns the terrible secret Victoria is hiding, she suddenly has even more questions. The only problem is, they might not be the kind that have answers.
In this groundbreaking novel, Coretta Scott King Honor winner Rita Williams-Garcia uses her vividly realistic voice to explore an often taboo practice that affects millions of girls around the world every year -- female genital mutilation. Readers will identify with headstrong, outspoken Akilah, whose struggle to understand what's happened to Victoria reveals a painful truth in an honest and accessible way.
"Of the several recent novels about FGM (female genital mutilation)...Williams-Garcia's story, written in Akilah's colloquial African American voice, is most successful. It combines a richly layered story with accurate, culturally specific information in language that's on-target for the audience, and the author tempers what could have been strident messages with interesting contrasts: Akilah's parents view FGM as an atrocity, even as they revere African culture; Akilah's aunt, who beats her children, raises questions about the forms of brutality ingrained in many families. Then there's Akilah herself, simultaneously confronted with her first menstrual period and the gravity of what has happened to her friend. Readers will have lots of questions for adults after reading this skillfully told, powerful story." --Gillian Engberg, Booklist
|Recommended Age||10 and up|
|Publication Date||Jan 1, 2004|