Gr 4-8-- Weaver-Gelzer has crafted an intelligent coming-of-age novel, set in Cameroun during its struggle for independence (1955-1960). The protagonist, Jessie, is the daughter of Presbyterian missionaries teaching in a remote region of the country. Throughout the narrative, she struggles with her desire for personal independence and her need for her family's love and support. The setting alternates between the boarding school in Elat that Jessie, her twin brother, and younger sister attend, and the college in Yaounde at which their parents teach. In the few weeks before, during and after Christmas, Jessie grows to better understand herself, her family, her God, and her adopted nation. Revolutionary Cameroun is more than a backdrop: the danger to non-Africans is constant and real. When her parents are mysteriously abducted, Jessie faces a future in which all of her hopes and plans are drastically changed. It is a challenge to her faith and to her strength of character, which the girl successfully faces. The author's acknowledgements include a brief description of the historical context in which she has placed her story. There is also a glossary that includes Bassa and Bulu words, as well as colloquial English terms. --Lucinda Lockwood, Thomas Haney Secondary School, Maple Ridge, BC
Fourteen-year-old Jessie lives in politically and personally troubled times as the daughter of missionaries in western Africa during the late 1950s. She struggles with defining her relationship with her parents, her siblings, her friends, and her God. While she is away in her last term at boarding school, her parents are abducted into the forest by political activists. She must learn how to handle fear, danger, and anger at God for her current situation and unknown future. Interpersonal relationships are sensitively written, and Jessie comes to a more solid understanding of her role as a sister, daughter, and friend. A deep friendship with an African girl adds multicultural interest. This will be a thoughtful read for both religious and nonreligious youth.