Sunday, September 19, 2010
Written by: Jan Michael
Upper Elementary and Junior High Grades
"Samuel Sangala has grown up in urban areas in Malawi. His parents wanted nothing to do with those “ignorant” people in the bush, and they never returned to the rural valley where their families live. But after both his father and his beloved mother die of the “The Disease” (AIDS), Sam has to move to his aunt’s small, dark hut in a country village, where there is no electricity and no computer, and he is expected to share his stuff with his cousins. Readers will recognize from the start that Sam will eventually find a way to feel at home in his new community, but that predictability doesn’t detract from the story, which remains true to his viewpoint and shows, without condescension or sentimentality, the wrenching upheaval, the ravages of AIDS, and Samuel’s grief. Even as he longs for the technology he learned to rely on, he also recognizes that his parents lost a lot when they broke from their roots. Above all, he learns that the definition of “family” encompasses more than just relatives."