Tuesday, 13 October 2020

The Deep Blue Between by Ayesha Harruna Attah

The Deep Blue Between by Ayesha Harruna Attah
Published by Pushkin Press on the 15th October 2020.

How I got this book:
Received a review copy from the publisher via NetGalley

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

A teen feminist epic of love, courage and determination, as twin sisters try to find each other again in 19th-century West Africa and Brazil

Twin sisters Hassana and Husseina are torn apart after a brutal raid on their village. This tragedy will set them on a voyage to unfamiliar cities and cultures where they will forge new families, ward off dangers and begin to truly know themselves.

As the twins pursue separate paths in Brazil and the Gold Coast of West Africa, they remain connected through their shared dreams. But will they ever manage to find each other again?

A rich, sweeping historical adventure, The Deep Blue Between is a moving story of the unbreakable bonds of sisterhood

I was pleasantly surprised by just how much I enjoyed reading The Deep Blue Between! This coming of age novel is intended for a young adult audience, but (as a much older reader) I never felt as though this story was too young for me. I would perhaps query the 'epic' claim of the synopsis because I found The Deep Blue Between to be a pretty fast paced book that I happily devoured in a day. My idea of an epic is more of a brick-sized book that overstays its welcome. That said though, The Deep Blue Between is a wonderfully detailed historical fiction story with lots to say about women's roles in 1890s West Africa and Brazil, and about our individual potentials to overcome extreme adversity and flourish. 

The two sisters, Hassana and Husseina, are beautifully complex characters and I loved how they are surrounded by a progression of equally interesting and authentic women as their individual journeys progress. Males do appear in peripheral roles and, in one case, as a suitably chaste love interest, but I appreciated how The Deep Blue Between resonates as a particularly female novel. (I'm not saying that male readers wouldn't enjoy the book too though!).

Attah's explorations of various culture clashes adds depth to the situations in which the twins find themselves. This was supposedly a post-slavery era yet the novel opens with Hassana and Husseina running in terror as their village is destroyed and its inhabitants taken prisoner. European missionaries are Christianising as many people as they can, insisting that pre-existing beliefs be suppressed, and the British are forcing through laws enabling them to grab the best African land for themselves. Over this dark background, Attah has painted a beautifully magical tale full of hope and joy, hard work and personal attainment, and the importance of us each finding our own niche in order to truly bloom. A wonderfully uplifting novel!

Search Literary Flits for more:
Books by Ayesha Harruna Attah / Historical fiction / Books from Ghana

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