Flying Through Water

Little, Brown. May 2024. 288p. Tr $16.99. ISBN 9780316703963.
Gr 3-7–This gripping tale follows Sena, a teenager in Ghana, through three equally compelling adventures. First, Sena transports readers into everyday life in a Ghanaian village, balancing school and work on the family farm with excursions to the river, where his Togbe (grandfather) teaches him family stories and traditional fishing techniques. This section illuminates how the artificial creation of Volta Lake and the Akosombo Dam to provide electricity in cities devastates rural communities. Sena also learns about Mami Wata, a goddess who saved Togbe in childhood. While Togbe is a strong, loving mentor, the boys at school cluster around the flashy but disreputable gangster, Jack of Diamonds, who promises a fast route out of rural poverty. Second, after a family tragedy, Sena decides that he can save his family by finding work through Jack of Diamonds. He ends up a victim of child trafficking when he becomes a fisher boy on Lake Volta. This section is an intense and unsentimental portrayal of modern slavery. Third, Sena’s perilous escape leads to a restorative island adventure where his Togbe’s teaching becomes key to the boy’s survival. The mystery of Mami Wata is also revealed in a manner that is compelling and realistic. The novel makes no false promises, and readers are left with an urgent hope that Sena will be able to complete his journey home and fulfill his new destiny as a guardian of the environment.
VERDICT Searing and eye-opening, readers will devour Sena’s story in a day.

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