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Heartfelt historical novel about sisters separated by European imperialism - and a deep blue ocean that also connects them
November 2020 Book of the Month
Ayesha Harruna Attah’s The Deep Blue Between, her debut for younger readers, is a rich historical, dual-narrative story of the unbreakable bonds of sisterhood. With a steady, captivating style, it’s rich in details of everyday life in late-nineteenth-century West Africa and Brazil, and the broader cultural landscapes of the Gold Coast and South America. It’s a thoughtful - and thought-provoking - novel, threaded with love, hope and determination.
“In 1892, when I was ten, I was forced to live on a land where the trees grew so close together, they sucked out my voice.” So Hassana sets the scene at the start of her story. Following a raid on her home, she’s been separated from her twin sister, Husseina, but senses they’ll find one another again. Even more so when she finds the protection of a stranger: “I was learning things from Richard that I was sure would make it easier to find Husseina. Richard had been in what he called “the Gold Coast” to study plants to find out what could be used to treat sicknesses. He was going to put everything he found in a book.” But the sisters’ paths take hugely divergent turns. While Hassana makes it to Accra, Husseina flees to Brazil, way across the deep blue ocean they both dream of.
Fans of Tomi Adeyemi's Children of Blood and Bone will relish reading about West African religion and culture in this context, and it’s also highly recommended for readers who love Jamila Gavin’s elegant, character-driven historic fiction. It provides vital insights into the impacts of European imperialism, and the connections between Africans and Brazilians of African descent, through a distinctly moving human story.
Twin sisters Hassana and Husseina's home is in ruins after a brutal raid. But this is not the end but the beginning of their story, one that will take them to unfamiliar cities and cultures, where they will forge new families, ward off dangers and truly begin to know themselves. As the twins pursue separate paths in Brazil and the Gold Coast of West Africa, they remain connected through shared dreams of water. But will their fates ever draw them back together?
A sweeping adventure with richly evocative historical settings, The Deep Blue Between is a moving story of the bonds that can endure even the most dramatic change.
|Publication date:||15th October 2020|
|Author:||Ayesha Harruna Attah|
|Publisher:||Pushkin Children's Books|
|Suitable for:||11+ readers, 13+ readers|
|Genres:||Adventure Stories, Historical Fiction, Personal Social Health Economic|
|Recommendations:||Books of the Month|
|Collections:||Our favourite children's books of 2020,|
Ayesha Harruna Attah is a Ghanaian-born writer living in Senegal. She was educated at Mount Holyoke College, Columbia University and New York University. She is the author of the Commonwealth Writers Prize-nominated Harmattan Rain, Saturdays Shadows and The Hundred Wells of Salaga, currently translated into four languages. Her writing has appeared in the New York Times, New York Times Magazine, Elle Italia, Asymptote and the 2010 Caine Prize Writers' Anthology. The Deep Blue Between is her first book for teen readers. Photo credit Itunu KukuMore About Ayesha Harruna Attah