Arts & Leisure

Book review: Little Family — by Ishmael Beah

(Riverhead Books)
Five children in an unnamed postcolonial African port city, having fled their previous lives riddled with unspoken struggles, come together, one by one, to form a little family of their own, one that cares for, protects, and provides for its members. They are clever, surviving day to day by acts of petty thievery, and living, clandestinely in the shell of a downed plane; wary and guarded, they create a code to alert the others by whistling certain phrases. The two eldest — Elimane, who teaches the other children factual history from an ever-present book, and Khoudi, a young girl on the cusp of womanhood — gently guide and contain the younger children; their care for each other evident in every passage. It’s only when the two of them feel emboldened to take larger risks that the safety of the little family is in jeopardy. This atmospheric and thoughtful novel probes at the heart of what it is that makes up a family, and how a family of one’s choosing can be the source of a tender bond. Beah, author of the bestselling and haunting memoir “A Long Way Gone,” is a talented writer, and he tells this story with rich beauty and grace. 
— Reviewed by Jenny Lyons of the Vermont Book Shop
 

9 More Books by African Writers
 
House of Stone by Novuyo Rosa Tshuma
The Old Drift by Namwali Serpell
Born on a Tuesday by Elnathan John
Welcome to Lagos by Chibundu Onuzo
We Need New Names by NoViolet Bulawayo
Evening Primrose by Kopano Matlwa
Bom Boy by Yewande Omotoso
Homegoing by Yaa Gyasi
Americanah by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

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