I have never been more excited to write a non-spoilery review more than this one! I received this novel at the Bloomsbury Bloggers event in a goody bag over a year ago and I just recently decided to read it.
Street-thief Tina breaks in to the luxurious house where her mother was killed to steal from Mr. Greyhill and nail him for her mother’s murder. She is caught red-handed. Saved by Mr. Greyhill’s gorgeous son, Michael, the pair set in motion a cascade of dangerous events that lead them deeper into the mystery, and reveal dark and shocking secrets from Tina’s past. Tina and her mother fled the Congo years ago as refugees, trading the uncertain danger of their besieged village for a new, safer life in the bustling Kenyan metropolis. The corruption and politics of the Congo, and the gangster world of Sangui City, are behind Tina’s mother’s downfall. Is Tina tough enough to find the truth and bring the killer to justice?
This was the second last book on my TBR for July and though I could’ve finished by July 31, I didn’t and it ate into my August reading time, though was so worth it and here’s why!
I really don’t know where to start with this review; the only note I have is to “talk about representation and stuff”; and really that is the main reason why I adored this book so. I really felt the divide between the classes and races of people in Tina’s world. The struggle for survival on either side and how some of these groups overlapped and worked together to survived though double-crossed each other with thoughts only of their own.
The fun part about the novel was Tina’s rules for being a thief and how upon second look, can be applied to normal life and not just that of a thief as Tina is, though it wasn’t long before she had to abandon her rules of being a thief and rely on pure instinct alone.
This novel changed from a book about a gang of rag-tag teens trying to topple an empire and make some cash, to a murder mystery novel with two teens trying to uncover the death of one’s mother. Old friends join sides, truths are uncovered and the brutality of the Milita in and around Congo and their alliance with the rich moguls in Sangui is honest and real, something I enjoy hearing about in books; especially those targeted to middle graders.
The difference between Tina and the people she met was often expressed in how their skin differed from hers, this usually translating to mean that the lighter skinned folk were richer and more privileged; usually, this allowed the reader to understand the setting and how there were power shifts and even sense the possibility of danger.
There is a big difference between guessing the killer and losing interest in the book, and guessing the killer but maintaining interest in the novel. This book achieved the latter brilliantly because although I had spotted the twist from the first mention of the killer, the path in which the novel descended to come to that conclusion was far more captivating than the major detail. The finer details and the relationships that were formed from once broken bods between broken people really made reading the novel worth my time, regardless of the distractions that caused me to take weeks to read it. I always came back begging to be let into Tina’s mind, into her web of love, lies and deception; the plans she so methodically set out often interrupted by the truths that were uncovered.
Though we see through her eyes, her loneliness and isolation; we think that she is not alone, though in her heart – something that isn’t conveyed through worlds – she feels as if she is; and that hurt me more than anything. How a young refugee orphan on the streets of Sangui felt that she could trust no one, could call no one her friend.
★ Rating ★
I chose to give this book ★★★★☆ (4/5 stars) because of the wonderfully engaging plotline, character development, and the educational message between its pages. It filled me with energy everytime I turned the page, waiting for another mystery beyond. I want to read more by this author and more on young people of colour who return or reside within their motherland, facing the conflicts that the suppressors inflict upon their people.
What are your favourite books that have people of colour in their motherland?
Thank You, With Love Bree xx
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