By Gavin Weston
Hello blog readers!! How is everyone today? This is a novel about a young girl and her family in Niger. This edition was published in November of 2013. This novel was originally published January of 2011. Gavin Westin is an Irish writer and this is his first novel.
Harmattan. A dry, dusty wind that blows from the Sahara across West Africa. [Probably from Arabic haram, a forbidden or accursed thing.]
Spirited, independent, and intelligent, Haoua has benefited from a stable home life and a loving and attentive mother. She enjoys working and playing with her siblings and friends, and she worships her elder brother, Abdelkrim, a serving soldier who sends money home to support the family. But, on his last home visit, Abdelkrim quarrels with their father, accusing him of gambling away the money he sends and of being the cause of their mother’s worsening health. It also emerges that their father plans to take a second wife. Despite this Haoua finds contentment in her schoolwork, her dreams of becoming a teacher, and in writing assiduously to the family in Ireland who act as her aid sponsors. But for Haoua, there are new storm clouds on the horizon. As civil strife mounts in Niger, Haoua begins to fear for Abdelkrim’s safety. Haoua’s mother’s illness is much more serious and further advanced than anyone had recognized, and her father’s plans are turning out to be far more threatening than she could have ever imagined. Approaching her 12th birthday, Haoua is alone and vulnerable for the first time in her life (taken from Goodreads).
This book is an eye opening look at the poverty of Niger. It also gives us a not so pretty picture of the life of a young woman and her struggles. Haoua wanted an education and had a sponsor, but due to traditions and family expectations is married off to a much, much older man at age twelve. While her father needs the support of the Vision Corps International, their ideas and goals cause conflict with the old ways and traditions. Life has not been kind to Haoua. There is a glossary of words in the front of the book, however I felt that it was frustrating some words were not listed. I felt this book was well written. This book makes you think about how fortunate we are in this country!! I give this book 4 out of 5 stars.