Kiffe Kiffe Tomorrow

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Overview

He thought I'd forged my mom's name on the slip. How stupid is that? On this thing Mom just made a kind of squiggly shape on the page. That jerk didn't even think about what he was saying, didn't even ask himself why her signature might be weird. He's one of those people who think illiteracy is like AIDS. It only exists in Africa.
—from Kiffe Kiffe Tomorrow

 "A tale for anyone who has ever lived outside looking in, especially from that ...

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Kiffe Kiffe Tomorrow

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Overview

He thought I'd forged my mom's name on the slip. How stupid is that? On this thing Mom just made a kind of squiggly shape on the page. That jerk didn't even think about what he was saying, didn't even ask himself why her signature might be weird. He's one of those people who think illiteracy is like AIDS. It only exists in Africa.
—from Kiffe Kiffe Tomorrow

 "A tale for anyone who has ever lived outside looking in, especially from that alien country called adolescence. A funny, heartfelt story from a wise guy who happens to be a girl. If you've ever fallen in love, if you've ever had your heart broken, this story is your story."—Sandra Cisneros, author of THE HOUSE ON MANGO STREET 

The Paradise projects are only a few metro stops from Paris, but here it's a whole different kind of France. Doria's father, the Beard, has headed back to their hometown in Morocco, leaving her and her mom to cope with their mektoub—their destiny—alone. They have a little help—from a social worker sent by the city, a psychiatrist sent by the school, and a thug friend who recites Rimbaud.

It seems like fate’s dealt them an impossible hand, but Doria might still make a new life. She'll prove the projects aren't only about rap, soccer, and religious tension. She’ll take the Arabic word kif-kif (same old, same old) and mix it up with the French verb kiffer (to really like something). Now she has a whole new motto: KIFFE KIFFE TOMORROW.

"Moving and irreverent, sad and funny, full of rage and intelligence. [Guène's] characters are unforgettable, her voice fresh, and her book a delight."—Laila Lalami, author of Hope and Other Dangerous Pursuits

Faïza Guène, the child of Algerian immigrants, grew up in the public housing projects of Pantin, outside Paris. This is her first book.

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Editorial Reviews

From Barnes & Noble
Barnes & Noble Discover Great New Writers
Kiffe Kiffe Tomorrow is a startlingly sassy coming-of-age tale that realistically imagines the time when a girl feels she's on the outside, looking in. In the case of Doria, Guène's 15-year-old narrator, it is all too true. A child of Moroccan immigrants in France, the bellicose Doria is a cynical Muslim teenager in a Parisian suburb. Abandoned by her father, she and her mother inhabit a small flat in a concrete project far from the glamour, culture, and good schools in Paris. Doria is taunted for being different; her goodwill wardrobe, her family's poverty, and her poor learning skills all seem to point to the same mektoub, or destiny: a future without hope.

Out of this clash of cultures, Doria struggles to find her place and escape the malaise she feels about her life. In the end, she fashions something new taking the Arabic phrase for "same old, same old" (kif-kif), mixing in the French verb kiffer (to really like something), and coining a brand-new motto for herself: "kiffe kiffe tomorrow," a kind of rallying cry that fuels her belief in a future and a home she can love, and turns her despair to hope. Packed with astute social observation, Kiffe Kiffe Tomorrow is rich in trenchant humor, with a cast of unforgettable characters and a narrator with a sharp and powerfully authentic voice. (Fall 2006 Selection)
Harper's
"Think of Doria on the same adolescent raft as Huck Finn and Holden Caulfield. A cunning wonder."
Entertainment Weekly
"A feisty, invigorating debut. [F]unny, infuriating, and hopeful about young womanhood and cultural welter. A-"—Entertainment Weekly
St. Petersburg Times
"With bravado, humor, and a healthy dose of rage."
San Francisco Chronicle
"[C]ompelling... reveals Guene to be a promising addition to the world's literary voices."
curled up with a good book
"This highly original story, told in an equally original voice, will be popular for as long as people read it."
Miami Herald
"[C]ompelling, revealing Guene to be a promising addition to the world's literary voices."
Salon
"Remarkable. A Gallic version of 'White Teeth,' 'The Catcher in the Rye' and 'Bridget Jones's Diary.' "
TimeOut Chicago
"Guene has a bright future ahead of her."
Hartford-Courant
"[K]udos for this sassy, spunky tale [with] the unforgettable voice. Doria has what it takes to storm any barricade."
Philadelphia Inquirer
"Guene keeps her narrative plunging onward, one amusing observation from Doria at a time. [A] promising debut."
Laila Lalami
"Moving and irreverent, sad and funny, full of rage and intelligence. Her voice is fresh, and her book a delight."
Sandra Cisneros
"A tale for anyone who has ever lived outside looking in, especially from that alien country called adolescence."
Seattle Times
"Rendered with tough defiance. [A] brash and bracing read."
Time MagazineOut Chicago
"Guene has a bright future ahead of her."
From the Publisher
PRAISE FOR KIFFE KIFFE TOMORROW

"A light-hearted bonbon of a book. Not since director Mathieu Kassovitz's 1995 hit film Hate has there been such a compelling portrait of the Parisian suburbs. Doria [is] a volatile mix of adolescent insecurity, misguided bravado and tenderness."
-Newsweek International

"[Kiffe Kiffe Tomorrow] challenges the conventional wisdom that the suburbs are only dangerous, crime-infested wastelands where hatred runs deep and hope is nonexistent."
-The New York Times

"Rendered with tough defiance. [A] brash and bracing read." - Seattle Times

"This highly original story, told in an equally original voice, will be popular for as long as people read it." - curled up with a good book

"A feisty, invigorating debut. [F]unny, infuriating, and hopeful about young womanhood and cultural welter. A-"—Entertainment Weekly

"Think of Doria on the same adolescent raft as Huck Finn and Holden Caulfield. A cunning wonder." - Harper's

"[K]udos for this sassy, spunky tale [with] the unforgettable voice. Doria has what it takes to storm any barricade." - Hartford-Courant

"Smart, upbeat. An empowering new voice transforms kif-kif—same old, same old—into kiffer, something to be crazy about." - Kirkus, starred review

"Moving and irreverent, sad and funny, full of rage and intelligence. Her voice is fresh, and her book a delight." - Laila Lalami

"[Doria is] as likable as Holden Caulfield or Prep’s Lee Fiora. Readers will cheer. Highly recommended."—Library Journal, starred review

"[C]ompelling, revealing Guene to be a promising addition to the world's literary voices." - Miami Herald

"[I]nspired. [A] sharply drawn tale of a precocious adolescent. [T]he reader can't help cheering." - New York Times Book Review

"Guene keeps her narrative plunging onward, one amusing observation from Doria at a time. [A] promising debut." - Philadelphia Inquirer

"Exuberant, sophisticated teen talk. This small novel reads like a quiet celebration within a chaotic ghetto." - Publishers Weekly

"Remarkable. A Gallic version of 'White Teeth,' 'The Catcher in the Rye' and 'Bridget Jones's Diary.'"
- Salon

"[C]ompelling... reveals Guene to be a promising addition to the world's literary voices." - San Francisco Chronicle

"A tale for anyone who has ever lived outside looking in, especially from that alien country called adolescence." - Sandra Cisneros

"With bravado, humor, and a healthy dose of rage." - St. Petersburg Times

"Guene has a bright future ahead of her." - TimeOut Chicago

Lucinda Rosenfeld
Kiffe Kiffe Tomorrow is not just a political tract. What makes it appealing is its sharply drawn profile of a precocious adolescent. In Sarah Adams’s highly colloquial translation, the narrator’s scorn extends to areas unrelated to the sociocultural circumstances of her family.
— The New York Times
Publishers Weekly
College-aged Gu ne was raised by Algerian immigrant parents in a Parisian housing project; in her debut novel, a French bestseller, 15-year-old Doria and her illiterate mother, having been abandoned by Doria's alcoholic father, are stuck in a Paris housing project called the Paradise. Dependent on welfare and subjected to the obligatory succession of social workers, the two are determined to face forward, despite Doria's sense of doomed mektoub (destiny), where gradual improvement (French: kiffe kiffe) gets flattened by the same old quotidian (Arabic: kif-kif). Doria, perpetually failing at school, begins a job babysitting a neighbor's much-adored four-year-old daughter, and Doria's mother begins literacy courses. A smart older boy, Nabil, is enlisted to tutor Doria, and she soon recognizes the potential of someone with dreams (as opposed to neighborhood teens like Hamoudi and Youssef, imprisoned for drug dealing and car theft). Throughout, the strictures of patriarchal Muslim culture clash with a nascent feminist freedom and Doria's exuberant, sophisticated teen talk. This small novel reads like a quiet celebration within a chaotic ghetto. (July) Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.
Seattle Times
"Rendered with tough defiance. [A] brash and bracing read."

Publishers Weekly
"Exuberant, sophisticated teen talk. This small novel reads like a quiet celebration within a chaotic ghetto."

Kirkus
"Smart, upbeat. An empowering new voice transforms kif-kif-- same old, same old-- into kiffer, something to be crazy about." 
  —starred review
KLIATT
Doria is a 15-year-old girl whose story is a familiar one in many ways. Her parents are divorced, and Doria lives with her mother, who, lacking education and job experience, has to work a menial job with a boss who treats her like she's nothing. Her father has moved on to another woman and Doria doesn't see him anymore. Doria has a crush on an older boy who thinks she is just a kid. Another boy likes her, but she thinks he is gross. Doria is a girl with problems many of us may not be familiar with firsthand: she is an Arab immigrant living in Paris in the projects. Her story is also a larger tale of racism and poverty. The young author, Faiza Guene, understands Doria's story intimately. She too grew up in the projects outside Paris and is a Muslim who is the child of Algerian immigrants. Her experience makes her story sound undeniably real with a truth that resonates throughout her tale. Through her voyage we see how kif-kif, which means "same-old, same-old" in Arabic, transforms into the French phrase kiffe kiffe, which means things are getting better all the time. KLIATT Codes: SA--Recommended for senior high school students, advanced students, and adults. 2006, Harcourt, 156p., $13.00.. Ages 15 to adult.
—Krista Bush
Library Journal
Fifteen-year-old Doria lives with her mother in Paradise Estates, a mostly Muslim housing project outside Paris. Her father has returned to greener pastures in his native Algeria and started a new family there, leaving Doria both furious and hurt. At the same time, she is a typical teenager, testing boundaries as she teeters toward independence. Doria is confounded by her changing body, as well as her burgeoning sexual and political interests, but she persistently struggles to figure things out. In this regard, she's as likable as Holden Caulfield or Prep's Lee Fiora. Still, she's an adolescent, and, depending on the situation, she can be tender or surly, sweet or defiant, moving between the belief that life is kif kif-unchanging-and kiffe kiffe-full of promise for a better tomorrow. Published when the author was 19, this gutsy debut highlights the racism endemic to French society and addresses class and gender tensions within and without the Arab community. Humor is abundant, despite the grim themes, and Doria is a compelling protagonist. Readers will cheer as she navigates through volatile terrain and eventually triumphs. Highly recommended.-Eleanor J. Bader, Brooklyn, NY Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
Guene's smart, upbeat debut shows a North African teenager finding the inner grit to withstand pervasive racism in a hardscrabble Parisian suburb. Fifteen-year-old Doria lives with her illiterate mother in a crummy, rundown housing project. They have been at the mercy of nosy social workers since Doria's father left them to return to Morocco six months before. The Beard, as she calls him, wanted a son ("for his pride, his reputation, the family honor, and I'm sure lots of other stupid reasons"), and her mother couldn't have any more children. At the moment, his abandoned family's mektoub (destiny) seems to consist of getting along on welfare and secondhand clothing. Doria barely scrapes by at school, where apathetic teachers dish out unengaging work. Mom cleans rooms at the dreary Formula 1 Motel, answering to the generic ethnic name of Fatma even though her real name is Yasmina. Doria can only talk to two people: Mme Burlaud, the school-mandated psychologist she sees every Monday, and Hamoudi, an out-of-work young man who smokes spliff and deals drugs but has a caring, protective way with the girl. She and her mother also occasionally visit an Algerian friend they call Aunt Zohra-a "real woman," according to Doria, because she is "strong" and can even deal with her husband spending six months each year back in the old country with a second wife. Despite her gloomy prospects, Doria refuses to be bitter and even finds some redeeming qualities in "lame-o" Nabil, who comes over to help with her civics homework. Slowly, things begin to change: Her mother leaves the motel after a strike and begins taking classes in English; Hamoudi falls in love with a single-mom tenant. And as for Doria, herluck might be lousy, but she's determined that her fate won't be. An empowering new voice transforms kif-kif-same old, same old-into kiffer, something to be crazy about.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780156030489
  • Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
  • Publication date: 7/3/2006
  • Edition description: Translatio
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 192
  • Sales rank: 347,058
  • Lexile: 890L (what's this?)
  • Product dimensions: 5.25 (w) x 8.00 (h) x 0.44 (d)

Meet the Author

This is her first book.

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Read an Excerpt

It’s Monday and, like every Monday, I went over to Madame Burlaud’s. Mme Burlaud is old, she’s ugly, and she stinks like RID antilice shampoo. She’s harmless, but sometimes she worries me. Today she took a whole bunch of weird pictures out of her bottom drawer. They were these huge blobs that looked like dried vomit. She asked me what they made me think about. When I told her she stared at me with her eyes all bugged out, shaking her head like those little toy dogs in the backs of cars.

It was school that sent me up to see her. The teachers, in between strikes for once, figured I’d better see somebody because I seemed shut down or closed off or something . . . Maybe they’re right. I don’t give a shit. I go. It’s covered by welfare.

I guess I’ve been like this since my dad left. He went a way long way away, back to Morocco to marry another woman, who must be younger and more fertile than my mom. After me, Mom couldn’t have any more children. But it wasn’t like she didn’t try. She tried for a really long time. When I think of all the girls who get pregnant their first time, not even on purpose . . . Dad, he wanted a son. For his pride, his reputation, the family honor, and I’m sure lots of other stupid reasons. But he only got one kid and it was a girl. Me. You could say I didn’t exactly meet customer specifications. Trouble is, it’s not like at the supermarket: There’s no customer-satisfaction guarantee. So one day the Beard must have realized there was no point trying anymore with my mom and he took off. Just like that, no warning. All I remember is that I was watching an episode from the fourth season of The X-Files that I’d rented from the video store on the corner. The door banged shut. From the window, I saw a gray taxi pulling away. That’s all. It’s been over six months. That peasant woman he married is probably pregnant by now. And I know exactly how it will all go down: Seven days after the birth they’ll hold the baptism ceremony and invite the whole village. A band of old sheiks carting their camel-hide drums will come over just for the big event. It’s going to cost him a real fortune— all his pension from the Renault factory. And then they’ll slit the throat of a giant sheep to give the baby its first name. It’ll be Mohammed. Ten to one.

When Mme Burlaud asks me if I miss my dad, I say “no,” but she doesn’t believe me. She’s pretty smart like that, for a chick. Whatever, it’s no big deal, my mom’s here. Well, she’s here physically. Because in her head, she’s somewhere else. Somewhere even farther away than my father.

© Hachette Littératures 2004
English translation © Sarah Adams 2006

All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopy, recording, or any information storage and retrieval system, without permission in writing from the publisher.

Requests for permission to make copies of any part of the work should be submitted online at www.harcourt.com/contact or mailed to the following address: Permissions Department, Harcourt, Inc., 6277 Sea Harbor Drive, Orlando, Florida 32887-6777.

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Customer Reviews

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Sort by: Showing all of 6 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted January 6, 2011

    Brilliant!!

    An easy and quick read. Insightful, humorous, and smart.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted February 8, 2009

    AMAZING- DON'T LISTEN TO ANYONE ELSE!

    Don't listen to ANYONE ELSE! This is one of the best books since Stargirl...Get a hold of it now! It includes real life situations and deep morals. You have to think...and it is not boring. It is engaging and interesting. I thoughtfully enjoyed it because it was recommended for me by my middle school teacher. I love it. The girl is funny and learns lessons that YOU should learn someday because they are IMPORTANT. Live the book Kiffe Kiffe Tomorrow. READ READ READ! I loved it, and so will you! I cried....

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 23, 2006

    Loved it.

    My 15-year old son and I both loved it. It's a slice of life in another city, for a 15 year old in very different circumstances.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 27, 2006

    not worth reading

    The book starts out ok but it gets boring and the second half is difficult to get through. I skimmed the end. Could have been much better!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 25, 2006

    Bad

    One word: BORING. It didn't keep me interested. Most of the little jokes you couldn't even get because it's probably from France. I could have stopped halfway through and it wouldn't have mattered. Don't waste your time.

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 3, 2011

    No text was provided for this review.

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