From Publishers Weekly
When her single mother needs a break, London teenager Lila is sent to school in Ghana. Once at Dadaba Girls' Secondary School, Lila finds herself fending for a place among an unforgiving physical and emotional climate. Just as Lila is learning to appreciate the unusual joys of her new home, however, Lila's mother, having found a new boyfriend and a new home, yanks her back to London. Though Lila gets back to school, lands a job, and finds a boyfriend, she's once again shipped off, this time to live with her father in New York. Brew-Hammond uses sensual language to drop readers into each of Lila's strange new settings, crafting vivid portraits of dislocation and discovery. Though the evangelical undertones may turn off some readers and Lila's mom's issues (her aggression, her refusal to let Lila make any decisions for herself) are left largely unaddressed, the beauty of the prose and the resilience of the heroine make this a winning debut. (Apr.)
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Far from the classic finding-your-roots story, this contemporary debut novel about a British teen’s return to her parents’ Ghana homeland is unsettling drama, with no clear coming home, and that is what makes the wry, honest first-person narrative so memorable and so surprising. Growing up in London with her divorced mother, Lila, 15, is caught doing drugs and chasing boys, so Mum sends her to a girls’ boarding-school in Ghana. She hates it there, especially the lack of running water, the filth, and the flies, though she does make some very dear friends (and enemies). When Mum suddenly summons her back, Lila feels a mix of anger, relief, and sorrow. But then her dad sends for her, and she visits with his family in Manhattan, after a wild trip to Disneyland. So where is home? Does she want to be the English girl or the exotic girl from Ghana? The writer clearly draws on her own American Ghanaian identity to dramatize the hardship and the rich diversity of a multicultural heritage. --Hazel Rochman