Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Review: Between Sisters

Between Sisters
Adwoa Badoe
2010; Groundwood Books; ISBN 978-0-88899-996-2 (hardcover)

Summary:  The future looks bleak for sixteen-year-old Gloria.  She's failed thirteen out of fifteen final exams, so she can't graduate from secondary school, can't pursue her dream of being a Somebody.  Even worse, there's little money since her father lost his job, her mother is sick, and her older sister Effie is busy with school and friends.  Then, Gloria gets the opportunity to leave Accra and live in Kumasi with Christine, a doctor who needs help taking care of her son Sam.  In exchange for two years' of work, Christine will pay for Gloria to attend sewing school.  Gloria finds all kinds of exciting changes in her new life: there's plenty of money, time to be a singer in a band, her new friend Bea--even a first love.  Yet when Gloria is faced with accusations and questions, she learns that being like a family isn't the same as being family.

Set in mid-1990s Ghana, Between Sisters transports readers to this coastal African country.  Richly peppered with foreign phrases and pop culture references, the novel keeps the story moving in spite of these new concepts.  Gloria is a believable teenager, both responsible and impulsive.  She hesitates to get sucked into easy credit by buying clothes on "small-small", yet falls into a relationship with the older playboy doctor Dr. Kusi.  Other characters like Christine, Effie, and Bea are well-drawn, capturing different aspects of being a woman in Ghana.  There's not enough YA literature set in contemporary Africa.  With its strong female characters, well-structured story, and thoughtful treatment of some of Ghana's challenges, Between Sisters is a welcome addition.

My copy of this novel had the above cover, but this alternate cover is featured on Barnes & Noble's website. Which do you prefer?

Other Reviews
Adwoa Badoe's blog:  http://adwoabadoe.blogspot.com/2010/09/reviewing-between-sisters.html
Amy Reads:  http://amckiereads.com/2010/11/18/review-between-sisters/
Talking to Myself: http://legxleg.livejournal.com/339059.html
Buried in Print:  http://www.buriedinprint.com/?p=3048
Westchester Library Services Teens:  http://wlsteens.wordpress.com/2010/10/22/between-sisters-by-adwoa-badoe/

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