Attah, Ayesha Harruna

The Deep Blue Between

(2) YA This novel (first published in the U.K. in 2020) offers a compelling view of West African history as a backdrop for a story of sibling bonding and coming of age. In 1892, ten-year-old twin sisters Hassana and Husseina are kidnapped and sold into slavery following a raid on their village. Hassana remains in what is now Ghana, and Husseina is taken to Lagos, in what is now Nigeria. Eventually, each attains freedom and transitions into young adulthood with purpose and conviction. Hassana moves to Accra and becomes a political and social activist. Husseina (now known as Vitória) resides in Salvador da Bahia, Brazil, where she is deeply involved in religion. They remain spiritually connected by their persistent desire to find each other and by shared dreams that include pervasive images of the ocean--but they come to realize that despite their bond, their ordeals have "shaped them into two different young women." Attah's accessible third-person narration, which alternates between the twins' perspectives, effectively conveys the depth of their relationship and their evolving maturity; she also includes meticulously detailed descriptions of the story's African and South American cultures and lifestyles. Themes such as enslavement, religion, diversity, feminism, colonization, and treatment of the mentally ill (a secondary character is held in an asylum) are candidly addressed and seamlessly woven into the complex, captivating story.


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