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No Laughter Here [NOOK Book]

Overview

Even though they were born in different countries, Akilah and Victoria are true best friends. But Victoria has been acting strange ever since she returned from her summer in Nigeria, where she had a special coming-of-age ceremony. Why does proud Victoria, named for a queen, slouch at her desk and answer the teacher's questions in a whisper? And why won't she laugh with Akilah anymore?

Akilah's name means "intelligent," and she is determined to find out what's wrong, no matter ...

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No Laughter Here

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Overview

Even though they were born in different countries, Akilah and Victoria are true best friends. But Victoria has been acting strange ever since she returned from her summer in Nigeria, where she had a special coming-of-age ceremony. Why does proud Victoria, named for a queen, slouch at her desk and answer the teacher's questions in a whisper? And why won't she laugh with Akilah anymore?

Akilah's name means "intelligent," and she is determined to find out what's wrong, no matter how much detective work she has to do. But when she learns the terrible secret Victoria is hiding, she suddenly has even more questions. The only problem is, they might not be the kind that have answers.

In this groundbreaking novel, Coretta Scott King Honor winner Rita Williams-Garcia uses her vividly realistic voice to explore an often taboo practice that affects millions of girls around the world every year. Readers will identify with headstrong, outspoken Akilah, whose struggle to understand what's happened to Victoria reveals a painful truth in an honest and accessible way.

In Queens, New York, ten-year-old Akilah is determined to find out why her closest friend, Victoria, is silent and withdrawn after returning from a trip to her homeland, Nigeria.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
In this disturbing and poignant coming-of-age novel, Williams-Garcia (Fast Talk on a Slow Track; Like Sisters on the Homefront) explores how two girls experience very different initiations into adolescence. Ten-year-old Akilah (whose name means "intelligence" in Swahili) feels ambivalent about being an "early bloomer." Instead of brooding about the changes in her body, she would rather be playing with her Nigerian friend Victoria, who is spending the summer in Africa with her family. Akilah looks forward to Victoria's return to America, but when Victoria finally does come home, she is different, acting quiet and withdrawn and treating Akilah like a stranger. Worst of all, Victoria "won't laugh." The author plants subtle clues as to Victoria's dramatic change (e.g., Victoria overreacts to the word "operation," in math class). But most readers will be as baffled as Akilah wondering what happened to Victoria in Nigeria to make her so sad. Then the shocking truth comes out during a heart-breaking confessional: While back in their homeland, Victoria's parents forced her to have an operation, and Victoria no longer feels whole. This contemporary tale about the ancient rite of female circumcision will no doubt leave an indelible mark on preteens. The author attempts to remain objective, showing how and why the ritual is still practiced in some cultures. Nonetheless, what readers will remember most about this honest novel is Victoria's physical and emotional pain and how her trauma dramatically affects Akilah's perception of Victoria's parents and her own pride in her heritage. Ages 12-up. (Jan.) Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information.
VOYA
Best friends Akilah and Victoria are usually inseparable. When Victoria and her family leave for an extended vacation to Nigeria during the summer before fifth grade, Akilah waits every day for some sign of Victoria's return. Akilah is overjoyed to see Victoria again, but something is wrong. Victoria no longer raises her hand in class, she does not play during recess, and she is not talking to Akilah. Victoria hides a terrible secret that Akilah uncovers after much prodding. It is so terrifying that no girl or woman should ever have to bear the secret alone. In her fourth novel, Williams-Garcia chooses a serious and rather uncomfortable topic as her focus. Female genital mutilation, or FGM, is a cultural rite of passage that millions of girls are forced to endure every year. The reader watches as these two young girls deal with this horrific situation. Williams-Garcia includes an afterword that provides general information on FGM and lists where readers can find more information on the subject. The publisher suggests the book for those students twelve years old and up; however, many younger students might not understand the subject matter. Instead it should be recommended for sophomores, juniors, and seniors. VOYA Codes: 3Q 2P J S (Readable without serious defects; For the YA with a special interest in the subject; Junior High, defined as grades 7 to 9; Senior High, defined as grades 10 to 12). 2004, Amistad/HarperCollins, 144p., and PLB Ages 12 to 18.
—Jonatha Masters
KLIATT
Akilah Hunter is spending her tenth summer looking forward to the return of her best friend Victoria Ojike from Nigeria, and to the start of fifth grade, but not to getting her first period, even though her mother has told her she's an "early bloomer." However, when Victoria and her family come back to Queens, something is wrong. Victoria is kept in the house, and when school starts, she isn't the same. She won't talk, she writes in little tiny letters instead of her regular loopty loos, she won't answer questions when the teacher asks, and she won't laugh-at all. Victoria's family tells Akilah she is getting over an illness. It is only after Victoria walks out of the class during a movie about human development and sexuality that Akilah swears her silence and learns the truth. Victoria haltingly tells the story of her trip to Nigeria, and the operation she had that has made her different from all the other girls in her class. Akilah is horrified, but wants to know more. When Akilah's mother discovers her researching a Web site about female genital mutilation, she confronts the Ojike family, opening a chasm between their two cultures and the two girls. By the end, readers realize some wounds heal slowly, and some not at all. Williams-Garcia uses Akilah's innocence and curiosity to address a delicate human rights issue about which she feels passionate. The text includes an author's note with suggestions for finding additional information on FGM. KLIATT Codes: J-Recommended for junior high school students. 2004, HarperCollins, Amistad, 133p., Ages 12 to 15.
— Michele Winship
KLIATT - Michele Winship
To quote the review of the hardcover in KLIATT, January 2004: Akilah Hunter is spending her tenth summer looking forward to the return of her best friend Victoria Ojike from Nigeria, and to the start of fifth grade, but not to getting her first period, even though her mother has told her she's an "early bloomer." However, when Victoria and her family come back to Queens, something is wrong. Victoria is kept in the house, and when school starts, she isn't the same. She won't talk, she writes in little tiny letters instead of her regular loopty loos, she won't answer questions when the teacher asks, and she won't laugh—at all. Victoria's family tells Akilah she is getting over an illness. It is only after Victoria walks out of the class during a movie about human development and sexuality that Akilah swears her silence and learns the truth. Victoria haltingly tells the story of her trip to Nigeria, and the operation she had that has made her different from all the other girls in her class. Akilah is horrified, but wants to know more. When Akilah's mother discovers her researching a website about female genital mutilation, she confronts the Ojike family, opening a chasm between their two cultures and the two girls. By the end, readers realize some wounds heal slowly, and some not at all. Williams-Garcia uses Akilah's innocence and curiosity to address a delicate human rights issue about which she feels passionate. The text includes an author's note with suggestions for finding additional information on FGM.
Library Journal
Gr 5-8-The friendship between two fifth-grade girls is at the center of this powerful novel, which also deals with the issue of female genital mutilation (FMG). Akilah, a 10-year-old African-American girl from Queens, can't wait for her best friend, Victoria, to come home from a visit to her grandmother in Nigeria. The Victoria who returns home, however, seems like a very different girl-quiet, reserved, and unhappy. Akilah spends the first half of the novel trying to figure out what happened to her friend. Victoria finally spills the truth: her family allowed a doctor to remove her clitoris so she would be a "clean and proper" Nigerian girl. Akilah is outraged, but keeps her friend's secret until her mother finds out by accident. Akilah's mother, also angered, screams at Victoria's mother and causes a rift between the two families. Williams-Garcia provides age-appropriate details without using anatomical terms and addresses some cultural issues and contradictions without overwhelming readers. Mostly the story focuses on the relationship between the two girls and Akilah's sometimes troubled bond with her mother. Because the story is told entirely from Akilah's point of view, the emotional impact of FMG is somewhat muted. However, readers with an interest in human rights and world issues may find the novel compelling, and it can also be appreciated as a story about friendship.-Miranda Doyle, San Francisco Public Library Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
This exquisitely written short novel tackles an enormous and sensitive subject. Ten-year-old Akilah waits for her friend Victoria to return to Queens from a summer trip to Victoria's birthplace, Nigeria. But when Victoria returns, she's different. She won't leave her house or even say hello. Eventually she returns to school but gives only one-word answers; she seems wilted and stunned. Where is her laughter, her sharp wit, her academic sparkle? Akilah stays confused until Victoria finally talks: in complete ignorance, she was taken by her family to Nigeria specifically to undergo female genital mutilation. As Akilah, sickened, begins to comprehend, so does the reader. Williams-Garcia pulls no punches: the operation's consequences are clearly explained, not gratuitously but for truth. Eye-opening and grounded solidly in the present, this piece has absolutely non-generic characters and allows a shocking subject various points of view (all black) without sacrificing a moral compass. Unapologetic, fresh, and painful. (author's note) (Fiction. 10-16)
ALA Booklist (Starred review)
“Combines a richly layered story with accurate, culturally specific information ..... [a] skillfully told, powerful story.”
(Starred review) - ALA Booklist
"Combines a richly layered story with accurate, culturally specific information ..... [a] skillfully told, powerful story."
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780061975752
  • Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
  • Publication date: 10/6/2009
  • Sold by: HARPERCOLLINS
  • Format: eBook
  • Pages: 144
  • Sales rank: 701,094
  • Age range: 13 years
  • File size: 574 KB

Meet the Author

Rita Williams-Garcia is a New York Times bestselling author and winner of the PEN/Norma Klein Award. She is the author of One Crazy Summer, which was a Newbery Honor Book, a Coretta Scott King Award winner, a Scott O’Dell Award winner, and a National Book Award finalist. She is also the author of six distinguished novels for young adults: Jumped, a National Book Award finalist; No Laughter Here; Every Time a Rainbow Dies, a Publishers Weekly Best Children’s Book; and Fast Talk on a Slow Track (all ALA Best Books for Young Adults); Blue Tights; and Like Sisters on the Homefront. The latter was named a Coretta Scott King Honor Book and was chosen as an ALA Best Book for Young Adults and a best book of the year by ALA Booklist, School Library Journal, The Bulletin of the Center for Children’s Books, The Horn Book, and Publishers Weekly. Rita Williams-Garcia lives in Jamaica, New York, is on the faculty at the Vermont College of Fine Arts in the Writing for Children & Young Adults Program, and has two adult daughters, Stephanie and Michelle, and a son-in-law, Adam.

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Read an Excerpt



No Laughter Here




By Rita Williams-Garcia


HarperCollins Publishers, Inc.



Copyright © 2006

Rita Williams-Garcia

All right reserved.


ISBN: 0688162487


Chapter One

Girl Warrior Rising


Did you ever cross your fingers and play that game in your head: If the last Life Saver in the roll is pineapple, then the letter will come this week. If the phone rings only twice before Dad yells, "I got it!," then the letter will come this week. If I can count to ten at my normal counting speed before a floating dandelion hits the ground, then it's for certain: Victoria's letter will definitely come this week.

Ever play that game and the last Life Saver is pineapple, Dad yells for the phone in time, and the dandelion is still crisscrossing above the hydrangeas on the count of twelve, and still no letter from Nigeria?

For two days straight I watched the mailman push his cart by our house only to leave a few Dear Occupant envelopes and a letter from our state assemblywoman.

Today, however, I was ready for him. Instead of watching from my bedroom window, I was stationed downstairs behind the living-room curtains. He was one of those new guys who was filling in while our regular carrier was on vacation. When I got through with him, he'd know that I was expecting an important letter and that his duty was to be on the lookout for anything from Nigeria. Victoria's stamps didn't fall off on their own, I'd explain. Some stamp collector was dazzled by the mighty Chief ObafemiAwolowo or the baobab tree smack in the corner of Victoria's letter and took those stamps for his private collection. I had to remind the mailman that even if the stamps had been taken off and chances are they had it was his duty to deliver Victoria's letter through rain, sleet, and from across the Atlantic Ocean.

So when the mailman pushed the cable bill and a leaflet from our councilman through the mail slot, I swung open the front door before he could get away. Dad says I have Girl Warrior rising, meaning I leap into action like a super-hero when action is needed.

"Mr. Mailman," I called after him. "Can you check your bag to see if there are any letters from Nigeria, postage due?"

I didn't even get a chance to tell him to be on the lookout for Victoria's letter and to deliver it even if Chief Obafemi Awolowo had fallen off the corner. Mom snatched me back into the house. Not with her hands. She didn't believe in yanking or spanking. But with her voice.

"Akilah Hunter!"

Girl Warrior fell to earth with a thud. I closed the door quicker than I had opened it.

"You know better than to talk to strangers."

I came inside and sat down on the sofa to sulk. I couldn't see what the big deal was. After all, during the school year I walk to school and back with a key around my neck, advertising to anyone that I'm a latchkey kid. I ride my bike all over town and no one ever messes with me.

Mom should have let the mailman answer, because now my mind took off into the wild blue yonder as she scolded me.

Victoria's letter had fallen off the mail barge and was floating up the White Nile. It had survived hippos and crocodiles only to drown in Khartoum, where the White Nile meets the Blue Nile. I could see the envelope sinking, sinking . . . but I snapped out of it because Victoria wasn't in Sudan.

"I should have enrolled you in that math and science camp up at York College instead of keeping you home . . . ."

That thought sent me back on the trail of Victoria's letter. Back across the Atlantic Ocean to the African continent.

I saw a rickety truck climbing the mountains of Kenya on bald tires. Mailbags bounced as the truck made its way up the rocky dirt road. A mailbag jostled open. A trail of letters dotted the road like Hansel and Gretel's bread crumbs.

"I thought spending more time together would be a good opportunity . . ."

But Victoria wasn't in Kenya or in Egypt. She wasn't in the Congo, or in Madagascar or Botswana. Victoria was in Nigeria, visiting her grandmother. She and her family had been in Nigeria since June twenty-third, the day I marked on my calendar as the start of Victoria's great journey. It was now August. Two months and only two letters.

Mom was still talking. "Clearly, you need more activities."

I went over our plan to stay in touch, which was, first she'd write, then I'd write, then she'd write, and I'd write, until she returned to Queens. The plan was going well. She wrote. Then I wrote. Then she wrote. Then I wrote. Then two weeks passed since my last letter from Victoria. Then three weeks. I wrote again, addressing the envelope in my clearest handwriting, to make sure it would be delivered, but it was no use. Her letters stopped coming. No more loopty-loo Ls and jolly P stems. No fat-dotted Is and Js.

I went over everything in my mind, like a rice inspector sifting through barrels of rice. Was it something I wrote in my last letter? I told her a joke I got off the Internet. I asked about the special dinner in her honor I mean, that's all I heard about before the Ojikes left for Africa: "There will be a special dinner to celebrate my coming-of-age." That was what Mrs. Ojike told Victoria and that was what Victoria told me, over and over.

Continues...




Excerpted from No Laughter Here
by Rita Williams-Garcia
Copyright © 2006 by Rita Williams-Garcia.
Excerpted by permission.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.


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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 3.5
( 8 )
Rating Distribution

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(3)

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(2)

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Sort by: Showing 1 – 9 of 8 Customer Reviews
  • Posted November 30, 2009

    Great for Teachers

    This book should be read by everyone who works with kids. It is an excellent reminder that we do not always know what our students are dealing with outside of the classroom.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 9, 2005

    An Educational Read

    We are reading this book out loud to our sixth grade class. They love it. At first we thought the boys would not enjoy the book, but after the first chapter they were hooked. As a class we love this book. It is very educational and it is reality for many young girls. This book also shows that one situation can change the way we view life. The way we laugh. The way we cry. How we view our friendships and our families. I love this book. The characters are vivid. This is a great book for young girls....:)

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 24, 2014

    S<_>Ќ<_>tt<_>&elipson<_>r

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 22, 2013

    Im stuck!!!

    What is the secret someone tell me because ifi buy this don't want it to be to gross or weird so please tell me !!!

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 7, 2013

    What is it about

    Im so stuck should i buy it or not help me!!!!!!!!

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 8, 2012

    This book made my eyes widen. Not only is this book a test of tr

    This book made my eyes widen. Not only is this book a test of true friendship, it makes you wonder and think of what other things could be happening to girls around the world. I've never thought about things like this until this book disgusted me enough to realize that things like this happens. i give this four stars because of this but the ending wasn't all that great. Over all, a very unique read

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 18, 2005

    No laughter here

    I didn't really seemed so intrested in this book, our teacher was doing a read aloud so it was like we had a choice. This book seemed like any other book until I started reading and reading. When I found out what happened to Victoria I was disgusted but that didn't give me a reason to put down a book. This book showed us about the real world and how digusting things could happen to girls, it wasn't just about she lived hapily ever after the end. This was a serious book and it shone some light on the real world. I didn't like the way the book ended though, I wish there could of been a couple more pages to it but then again they are only fifth graders, I liked the book anyway.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 21, 2004

    No Laughter Here....the title really fits!

    I picked this book up off of the new releases shelf in the young adult section of my library. After reading the insert, I thought, maybe this will be a good quick read. When I took the book home and started to read the first chapter, I thought, wow, it's about two fifth grade girls, this might get a little boring..... However, once I found out why Victoria was acting so stragely, I was horrified. How could an author write about something so terrible for preteens and teens? I forced myself to keep reading the book; to see if Victoria's problem was fixable. The book didn't conclude very well, but the author's note explained what had happened to Victoria was a real surgery that occurs in African countries to this day. It really scares me to think there are girls out there who are struggling throught this. Although I didn't really think the book was a good one for the level it was written on, I do think the author had a good idea in making sure the public knew about this terrible thing. I cannot describe it in words, so if you want to feel very fourtunate that we live a very good life, read this book.

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 28, 2010

    No text was provided for this review.

Sort by: Showing 1 – 9 of 8 Customer Reviews

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