by Jane Kurtz
Review by Kimberly Brosan on Jun 17th 2002
Dakar and her older sister Jakarta have always been
best friends. When their parents decide to move to North Dakota, to her mothers
childhood home, Jakarta refuses to come with them. She decides to stay in Kenya
where her school and her friends are. Dakar thought she would change her mind,
but here she is in North Dakota with her mother and fatherbut Jakarta lives
thousands of miles away in a country where it is not always safe.
To make matters worse, Dakar hates her new
surroundings. It is strange in North Dakotashe must get used to telephones and
banisters and leaves falling from trees and SNOW! Shes not what her classmates
expected of someone from Africashes not black, they want her to speak
different languages to themthey treat her as an oddity. If it werent for her
friend Melanie, Dakar would probably be even more miserable than she already
is. Melanie and Dakar share secrets and stories. Melanie tries to help Dakar
adjust to her new surroundings and Dakar shares stories of the places shes
lived and the things shes seen. Melanie thinks her new friends stories are
wonderful and she cant wait to meet the mysterious sister, Jakarta, who Dakar
so obviously idolizes.
Dakar is a worrier. There is an explosion in Kenya
and her family hasnt been able to reach the school or talk to her sister.
Dakar doesnt know what to do, and she wishes that her parents were more reassuring
than they seem to be lately. To distract herself, Dakar makes listslists of
what she misses, mysterious stories she remembers, lists that attempt to put
some order in the jumble of her life. Dakar has panic attacks, which wake her
from sleep because she stops breathing. They happened when she and Jakarta were
in boarding school in Kenya too, but no one from the school told her parents.
Her sister sang to her while she calmed down and fell back to sleep.
When Jakarta is finally located and brought against
her will to live in North Dakota, her young sister is convinced that she wont
have to worry any longer. When Jakarta arrives though, she is angry and
belligerent. In an attempt to placate Jakarta, Dakar shuns the one person who
made her feel safe in this new world: her friend Melanie. Having her sister
back with the family does nothing to help Dakar feel more comfortable, and
there seems to be something else brewing at home. Neither her mother nor her
father seem to be very happy in the new home. In fact, Mom ends up going to
take care of her Aunt Lilyin a house without a telephone. When theres a
medical emergency, her father heads for Guatemalaanother place without a
telephone, leaving the two girls alone to take care of themselves.
After joining the schools basketball team where
Jakarta is the star player, she begins to settle in and feel a little better
about their new surroundings, but Dakar is still worried. Shes worried about
her mother. Shes worried about her father. Shes worried that they wont know
how to operate the heat in the house when it snows. Shes worried that her
parents wont ever come back. With the help of Pharo, Jakartas boyfriend and
Melanies mother, the girls manage to make it through.
When her mother returns with Aunt Lily and her
father returns with an ache to go back to Africa, the tension in the house
builds and builds. Her father doesnt like the cold gray days but her mother
longs to put down roots somewhere for a little while. The girls may have to
face another split of the family. How will they decide where they want to live
and whom they want to live with? These are difficult choicesespecially for a
worrywart like Dakar.
2002 Kimberly Brosan
is a high school teacher and librarian. She has worked in high school and
primary school libraries in Pennsylvania and South Carolina for the past 10
years. Kims primary interests are in young adult literature and information
literacy. She says that her favorite part of her job is connecting people with
the books and information they need and teaching them how to locate and
evaluate things for themselves.