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Web Of Lies

Web Of Lies

by Beverley Naidoo

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Two years after their flight from Nigeria, 14-yr-old Sade, her younger brother Femi and her father are living in a council flat in London, waiting for their claim for asylum to be approved. Sade is upset when Femi is drawn into a violent possibly drug-dealing gang, and even more upset when their father doesn't seem to notice. He's too taken up with his new friend Mrs


Two years after their flight from Nigeria, 14-yr-old Sade, her younger brother Femi and her father are living in a council flat in London, waiting for their claim for asylum to be approved. Sade is upset when Femi is drawn into a violent possibly drug-dealing gang, and even more upset when their father doesn't seem to notice. He's too taken up with his new friend Mrs Wallace, a refugee from Sierra Leone. But when Femi is arrested for murder, and the gang set fire to their flat, the family has to pull together to get through this most difficult time.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Having fled Nigeria in The Other Side of Truth (in a starred review, PW called it a "sophisticated and emotional novel, poignant and accessible"), Sade and Femi now come up against new challenges in London, where they await being granted asylum in Beverley Naidoo's Web of Lies. Femi has been drafted into a gang of older boys, and Sade does not want to worry her father. Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.
Children's Literature
For 12-year-old Femi, now in junior high and quickly being sucked into a gang of older boys who are dealing drugs, London in 1997 proves as dangerous a forest as the one back at Family House in Nigeria. This sequel to the Carnegie-Medal-winning The Other Side of Truth continues the story of Nigerian refugees Femi and his older sister Sade, both the object of the unwelcome attentions of Errol Richards, aka Lizard Eyes. Still waiting for permanent residence status, their family is at the mercy of the immigration department. Civil war has broken out in Sierra Leone and threatens the child of their father's co-worker, Mrs. Wallace. Drawn in by an older boy who promises to protect him, Femi has begun to smoke pot, shoplift, and lie about where he goes on Saturday afternoons. Slow-moving at first with somewhat awkward dialog, the story picks up speed in the middle and by the time Femi is mugged in a drug delivery gone awry, the reader will be as caught up in his web of lies as he is himself. The author's sympathy with the plight of Nigerian immigrants and Sierra Leonean child soldiers is clear; for those who missed the message, a note at the end recounts the history. This will have special appeal to middle school readers of the first book, but stands alone as a frightening but not unfamiliar depiction of what it is like to be a boy in a gang-driven world. 2006 (orig. 2004), Clarion Books/HarperCollins, and Ages 10 to 14.
—Kathleen Isaacs
In this sequel to The Other Side of Truth (HarperCollins, 2001/VOYA October 2001), Sade and Femi-originally from Nigeria-are settling into a new country, school, and neighborhood. Memories of their mother gunned down in front of their home in Lagos haunts both adolescents as they try to make sense of the importance of standing up for truth and justice despite impending danger. While in Nigeria, their journalist father, Folarin Solaja, wrote articles criticizing General Abacha's approach to ruling. In an author's note, Naidoo explains that Folarin's actions could result in arrest, torture, or execution. The threat of General Abacha's agents attacking the children or the "local thugs" of London endangering them is a major concern. Unexpectedly a schoolmate named James befriends Femi and affectionately calls him "little brother." A loner, Femi imagines that at last he has found companionship and perhaps a sense of safety, as he knows James is a part of a gang headed by sixteen-year-old Errol Richards. Before Femi realizes it, he becomes the gang's pawn and is caught in a "web of lies" that nearly causes him his freedom and his family's trust and respect. The strength of the novel rests in Naidoo's approach to well-worn themes of peer pressure and violence, creating a heartfelt book about a young man's aching desire for validation and acceptance of self and peers. This book is a good addition to public and school libraries. Even reluctant readers, particularly males, will be intrigued by Naidoo's compelling depiction of youth caught up in crime and deceit. VOYA CODES: 3Q 4P M J (Readable without serious defects; Broad general YA appeal; Middle School, defined as grades 6 to 8; Junior High,defined as grades 7 to 9). 2006, HarperCollins, 256p., and PLB Ages 11 to 15.
—KaaVonia Hinton-Johnson
School Library Journal
Gr 6-9-This sequel to The Other Side of Truth (HarperCollins, 2001) continues the story of Sade and Femi, now back with their father, as they struggle to fit in at their London school. Femi faces pressure to join a gang, and as he becomes increasingly enmeshed in its activities, his lies to his family become more serious. Eventually he is arrested when a gang member is stabbed and he is caught running away from the scene. This is a gritty and credible story of how a young teen can be unintentionally pulled into a gang, as well as a cautionary tale with a touch of didacticism, African-style. However, it is also a heart-warming story of a family struggling through difficult circumstances, including grief over their mother's murder, economic difficulties, and the culture shock of being refugees in a foreign country. This novel is about the power of telling the truth and the poison of lying. As the three family members slowly learn to confide in one another, their relationships are healed, even if their circumstances are not resolved. While Femi is at the center of this story, Sade's feelings are revealed through her journal. Naidoo integrates Nigerian culture seamlessly into the British context, revealing the complex social world inhabited by immigrants. Readers will look forward to the next installment in the Solajas' story.-Sue Giffard, Ethical Culture Fieldston School, New York City Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
Still negotiating their refugee status in England, Femi and Sade find that the arrival of their father hasn't solved all their problems in this sequel to The Other Side of Truth (2001). While Sade's voice previously held sway, now it is Femi's turn. Inveigled into helping shoplifters, smoking pot and spending time with the pushers as a member of their troop, Femi finds that being safer from political persecution in England than in Nigeria isn't everything he needs to survive. Sade, preoccupied with worrying that a woman from Sierra Leone is replacing her deceased mother, remains unaware of Femi's increasing criminal activity as Femi's talent at cover-up emerges. Understanding much of the cast and the situation depends on knowing the first book, which won the Jane Addams Book Award, but as Kemi pulls the whole family toward peril, the same taut suspense will satisfy previous readers. The cultural content is less this time around, but continues especially in the diary entries addressed to Iyawo, a sculpture that embodies home and reminds Sade of her mother. (Fiction. YA)

Product Details

Penguin UK
Publication date:
Product dimensions:
6.00(w) x 1.25(h) x 9.00(d)
Age Range:
12 - 13 Years

Read an Excerpt

Web of Lies

By Beverley Naidoo

HarperCollins Publishers, Inc.

Copyright © 2006 Beverley Naidoo
All right reserved.

ISBN: 0060760753

Chapter One

"Hi, Little Brother!"

The first hullabaloo left Femi pressed against the wall like a leech. The blaring bell brought a tidal wave of bodies swooping down the corridor. He glimpsed his friend Gary's sandy-brown hair bob away and disappear. By the time he could prize himself off the wall, he was alone. Late and lost.

From behind closed doors came the muffled sounds of classes settling down. He scurried along the empty corridor, trying to delve into his bag at the same time. He needed to consult his map. There was a T-junction coming up. Was math to the left? His heart was already pumping fast when the second hullabaloo struck. A whacking great thud . . . a raw, yelping howl . . . sudden laughter. Then a posse of older boys careered around the corner from the left, one almost tumbling over Femi. The boy swore as Femi's eyes met his. Dark black pupils in a delicate brown web. A flicker like a camera shutter. Femi didn't wait. He darted around the corner.

Deep, awful moans arose from a man crouched in the doorway of the nearest classroom. With his head drawn in like a wounded soldier's, he was rocking back and forth, clutching one hand over the other. Femi gaped at the emerging tattoo of red rivulets.

The children inside the room looked strangelyfrozen, except for a girl and boy standing close behind the kneeling figure. First years, like Femi.

"Miss! Help, Miss!" They signaled frantically at a teacher hurrying down the corridor. Noisy older students spilled out from the classroom behind her.

"Sir's fingers caught in the door, Miss!" squealed the girl.

"Someone slammed it, Miss!" The boy looked ashen. "Sir was looking the other way!"

Femi stood transfixed as a crowd swirled around him to see the injured teacher.

"WHAT is going on here?" a voice thundered behind them. "Get back to class immediately, all of you! Back to class!"

Femi had only been two days at Avon High, but already he recognized the voice of Mr. Gordon, the deputy head teacher. Flash Gordon! His sister, Sade, had told him the nickname. It was a joke. He was tall and broad shouldered, but he had a large pot belly and thinly spread-out gray hair. However, his voice was deep and powerful, and it propelled Femi out of the combat zone, down the corridor in search of his math class.

"Sorry, Miss, I got lost!" Femi mumbled.

Ms. Hassan raised her eyebrows and placed him in an empty seat close to her, nowhere near Gary or any of the others from his primary school. This was 7B's second lesson with Ms. Hassan, and Femi had already seen that her tongue was even sharper than her eyebrows. Terminator eyebrows, said Gary. Femi tried to concentrate on the numbers that squeaked out from the chalk scratching the blackboard. He copied the multiplication problems into his new exercise book slowly and neatly. But when it came to filling in the answers, the pen poised above the page, he began to panic, trying to think. But his brain could only conjure up a figure curled up in pain -- and a pair of eyes clicking in front of him like a camera shutter. When Ms. Hassan did not collect the books but said they should complete the problems for homework, he breathed more easily.

Femi slid next to Gary as they left the room. Even before Gary opened his packet of crisps, Femi was recounting his tale of bloodcurdling cries and a teacher on the floor with blood spurting like a fountain from his hands. He said nothing, however, about the posse of boys in flight. Something made him hold back. Instead, he let Gary go on about the class hearing a weird faraway howl and how Ms. Hassan had stopped anyone from leaving their desks.

They had been friends for a whole year now. Gary had joined the top class at Greenslades Primary. Femi had been new the year before and had slipped into being a loner. But something about Gary had appealed to him. He liked the way Gary had shrugged off comments about his Liverpool accent. His mother had brought him down to London to live with a new stepdad. There had been gossip about his real dad dying in a terrible accident, but Femi had never asked questions. He knew about not prizing open a lid that was nailed down.

By lunchtime the rumors had spread about a teacher losing a finger. There was talk of an ambulance driving into Avon school. Someone said they had seen a police car. However, apart from Gary, Femi didn't tell anyone else that he had seen the teacher rocking in agony on the floor.

They were edging nearer the cafeteria hatch when Femi felt a hand on his shoulder. He swung around.

"Hi, little brother! Long time no see!" The boy with the dark-brown camera eyes smiled and hustled between him and Gary. Femi bit his lip.

"Keep my brother's place, right!" the older boy ordered Gary, steering Femi away.

"There's a girl, Sade, in my class. Is she your sister?" The grip allowed no resistance, but the boy's voice was soft and quite friendly.

Femi nodded, avoiding looking up.

"Yeah, you look alike, but you're not as pretty as her, are you?"

Femi swallowed, his mouth dry.

"Just a joke, right! What's your name?"

Femi managed to say his name, not much louder than a whisper.

"Okay, Femi. I want you to give her a message."

So, was this just about Sade -- not about the teacher losing a finger? Femi picked up courage.

"But you said she's in your class." He couldn't hide the puzzlement.

"Girls like a bit of mystery!" The boy laughed. "Just tell her Errol likes her and don't tell her how you know."

"Is that you? Errol?" Femi ventured.

"No way, man! You don't know Errol Richards?"

Femi shook his head.


Excerpted from Web of Lies by Beverley Naidoo Copyright © 2006 by Beverley Naidoo. 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.

Meet the Author

South African author Beverley Naidoo was exiled from her home country when she was a student in 1965, for campaigning against apartheid. Her first children's novel, JOURNEY TO JO'BURG, was banned in South Africa when it was published in 1985 and only available there after the release of Nelson Mandela from jail in 1991. It was however published in many other countries around the world and widely praised for its eloquent, moving and accessible story. Her later novel, THE OTHER SIDE OF TRUTH, won the Carnegie Medal in 2000 and she has written many other acclaimed books for children. Beverley lives in the UK.

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