A powerful coming-of-age tale.
WHAT’S THE BOOK ABOUT
Dreams are today’s answers for tomorrow’s questions.
11-year-old Kofi Offin dreams of water. Its mysterious, immersive quality. The rich, earthy scent of the current. The clearness, its urgent whisper that beckons with promises and secrets…
Kofi has heard the call on the banks of Upper Kwanta, in the village where he lives. He loves these things above all else: his family, the fireside tales of his father’s father, a girl named Ama, and, of course, swimming. Some say he moves like a minnow, not just an ordinary boy so he’s hoping to finally prove himself in front of Ama and his friends in a swimming contest against his older, stronger cousin.
But before this can take place, a festival comes to the villages of Upper and Lower Kwanta and Kofi’s brother is chosen to represent Upper Kwanta in the wrestling contest. Encircled by cheering spectators and sounding drums, the two wrestlers from different villages kneel, ready to fight.
You are only fine, until you are not.
The match is over before it has barely begun, when the unthinkable–a sudden death–occurs…
The river does not care how grown you are.
As his world turns upside down, Kofi soon ends up in a fight for his life. What happens next will send him on a harrowing journey across land and sea, and away from everything he loves.
Content Warning: slavery
WHY YOU SHOULD READ THIS BOOK
Based in Africa, The Door of No Return is a moving and powerful coming-of-age tale of Kofi. Although targeted toward a middle-grade audience, it can be read by people of all ages.
Kofi is brimming with curiosity, enthusiasm, and energy as is the norm with any eleven-year-old boy. He loves a girl, Ama, and is determined to prove himself in front of her by defeating his older, much stronger cousin.
But before that can happen, a tragedy occurs upending Kofi’s life. Will he find his way back home?
Being rooted in your traditions, culture, and language is the biggest takeaway for me from this book. Kofi’s schoolteacher insists on speaking English, and even beats them if the children don’t speak English in school. But back home, Kofi’s grandfather gently chides him to always speak his mother tongue in his home.
I loved Kofi’s character. I was charmed by his bubbling enthusiasm and smiled at his naivete as he navigated through his school life full of mock fights with his brother and friends, and a childhood crush on a classmate.
On the other hand, I could also feel his fear and helplessness as he was brutally sold into slavery.
It is a trilogy, however, the book doesn’t end in a cliffhanger.
The Door of No Return by Kwame Alexander is a poignantly written novel-in-verse which I will highly recommend to all fans of literary and middle-grade fiction.
The book deals with the topic of slavery, hence, please heed the trigger warning.
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Kwame Alexander is a poet, educator, publisher, and New York Times Bestselling author of 36 books, including SWING, BECOMING MUHAMMAD ALI, co-authored with James Patterson, REBOUND, which was shortlisted for prestigious UK Carnegie Medal, The Caldecott Medal and Newbery Honor-winning picture book, THE UNDEFEATED, illustrated by Kadir Nelson, and his NEWBERY medal-winning middle grade novel, THE CROSSOVER. A regular contributor to NPR’s Morning Edition, Kwame is the recipient of numerous awards, including The Lee Bennett Hopkins Poetry Award, The Coretta Scott King Author Honor, Three NAACP Image Award Nominations, and the 2017 Inaugural Pat Conroy Legacy Award. In 2018, he opened the Barbara E. Alexander Memorial Library and Health Clinic in Ghana, as a part of LEAP for Ghana, an international literacy program he co-founded. He is the writer and executive producer of THE CROSSOVER TV series on Disney+. The fall of 2022 will see the release of book one of a new trilogy, THE DOOR OF NO RETURN.