Friday, August 3, 2012

A Girl Named Disaster

A Girl Named Disaster
By Nancy Farmer

My husband and I are going to Mozambique with a missionary organization. We're very excited. In preparation for our trip, this book was recommended to us. Had I seen it before in our library? Yes. Had I recognized that the book was set in Mozambique? No. (Had I heard much about Mozambique before this trip? No.) This book was recommended to us because it offers a detailed insight into the Mozambican worldview and rural culture.I was impressed with the amount of research Nancy Farmer put into this book! I learned so much about Mozambique and yet I didn't feel that the facts watered down the story at all.

This is a survival story. Nhamo, a preteen girl, (whose name means 'disaster') flees her village and an arranged marriage to an old abusive man, wanting to travel to Zimbabwe where her father lives. She takes a dug-out boat along a river into a giant lake, Cahora Bassa, where she is stranded on an island with a community of baboons and various other wild animals.

I felt immersed in the Mozambican mindset while reading the book. (Of course, I haven't been to Mozambique yet, so what do I really know?) I was horrifically intrigued by some of the foods Nhamo ate. I learned a lot about the ways baboons interact with each other. I learned a lot about different religions found in Mozambique. Most interesting of all to me was trying to understand how Nhamo's family could be living in huts eating termites while just a few hundred miles away other people are living in electrically-wired cement homes eating bread with margarine. I can't imagine what it must feel like to walk over a border into an entirely different lifestyle with unimaginable conveniences.

Overall I loved A Girl Named Disaster and am recommending it to friends and family!

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