Hope Is Our Only Wing

Soho. Sept. 2019. 216p. Tr $18.99. ISBN 9781641290722.
Gr 9 Up–Shamiso Muloy was recently transferred to a boarding school in Zimbabwe. Shamiso and her mother were forced to relocate to Zimbabwe after her father, an investigative journalist, dies in a car accident. While her parents are both from Zimbabwe, Shamiso was raised almost exclusively in London, which makes learning a new culture hard. She arrives in Zimbabwe during a time of political and social unrest. Zimbabwe’s unstable infrastructure and the machinations of corrupt politicians have led to teacher strikes, rolling blackouts, and queues for basic commodities. At school Shamiso is ostracized by the other students and teachers because of her accent and mannerisms, and Shamiso withdraws even further into herself, with only her father’s stories and a few of his mementos to comfort her. Tanyaradzwa, another student at the boarding school, is the only student brave enough to befriend Shamiso. Through this unlikely friendship, Shamiso tries to make sense of her father’s death, while also attempting to support Tanyaradzwa in her own health concerns.  This is a nuanced view of a very turbulent time in Zimbabwe’s history. The economic and social turmoil experienced by everyday Zimbabweans is juxtaposed with the plight of the children growing up in this system.
VERDICT Tavengerwei creates dynamic characters who will resonate with readers across the globe. This title is a good fit for public and school libraries interested in showcasing fiction from countries outside of the United States.

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