The Door of No Return

Hachette Audio. Sept. 2022. 335p. $18.99. ISBN 9781668610770.
Gr 5 Up–Alexander’s latest novel introduces a planned trilogy, beginning in 1860 Asante Kingdom, now modern Ghana. Ghanaian-born British actor Holdbrook-Smith elevates Alexander’s verses into a transformative performance. Kofi, 11, lives with extended family amid friends, including a first crush. The colonial outside encroaches with the insistence to speak the “Queen’s English,” despite warnings from Kofi’s storyteller grandfather of inevitable “invaders.” When Kofi’s brother accidentally kills his royal opponent during a wrestling contest, the tragedy sets in motion Kofi’s agonizing journey through the door of no return. In between the rhythmic drums that open and close the extraordinary production, Holdbrook-Smith is every character: youthfully earnest Kofi; scratchy-voiced Grandfather; pretentiously nasally Mr. Goodluck Philip; the squeaky “small-small boy” in a cage; the vicious “men with no color”; proud Afua reminding “Do not forget to listen for the beautiful things” as she jumps to her death.
VERDICT Libraries should expect consistent demand in all formats.

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