Even When Your Voice Shakes

Norton. Feb. 2022. 240p. Tr $18.95. ISBN 9781324017110.
Gr 9 Up–Growing up in Ghana, Naa Amerley fights an uphill battle to provide for her family. They are days away from being evicted from their one-room house when distant relative Rosina Idrissu arrives to hire Amerley as her maid. While reluctant to leave home, Amerley can’t ignore the potential of the money to transform their lives and fulfill her dream of becoming a seamstress. The shocking excess of the Idrissu family’s lifestyle initially unmoors Amerley, but she settles in and begins saving for her own sewing machine. Then, her dreams of a better future are violently derailed when the son of her employer rapes her. Confronted by the accusation that “no one will believe you—you’re just the maid,” Amerley grapples with her fear of speaking out. Readers will be drawn in by Amerley’s struggle to survive extreme poverty and an exploitative world of wealth. The Ghanaian setting is well-conveyed through description and metaphor, such as when Amerley reflects on her “words bubbling up, on the verge of spilling over, like when you’d boil cassava for fufu and the steam would lift the lid off.” Her clear, compelling voice drives the well-paced narrative, whose main weakness is an overly neat ending. A glossary of Ga terms is included.
VERDICT With a strong, resourceful protagonist, a richly observed setting, and powerful messages about gender and class inequity, this novel belongs on all shelves.

Be the first reader to comment.

Comment Policy:
  • Be respectful, and do not attack the author, people mentioned in the article, or other commenters. Take on the idea, not the messenger.
  • Don't use obscene, profane, or vulgar language.
  • Stay on point. Comments that stray from the topic at hand may be deleted.
  • Comments may be republished in print, online, or other forms of media.
  • If you see something objectionable, please let us know. Once a comment has been flagged, a staff member will investigate.



We are currently offering this content for free. Sign up now to activate your personal profile, where you can save articles for future viewing