Friday, May 14, 2010

#BookReview: Sankofa - Rita Kusi

Beware of wolves in sheep’s clothing and beware of book synopsis’ that say one thing, but give you another. From reading the synopsis on the back of the book, I was under the assumption that Sankofa would be the story of four friends returning to their roots in Ghana to rediscover themselves.

“…four friends whose families won the Diversity Lotto Program in the late 1980’s and traveled from the tropical climate of Ghana, West Africa to New York City. No one said life in a new world was going to be easy, but no one also said it was going to be tricky either. How do you adapt to a new way of life while remaining true to the old? 
Take the journey with the main character, Kimberly Akosua Mensah, as she makes the trip back home and attempts to reclaim her past to move forward to adulthood.” 
Based on that, I was ready to read the story of perhaps these young girls making the initial adjustments as children and then skipping ahead to perhaps their teen or adult years. I was looking for conversations and interaction with family members more firmly rooted in the culture and the conflict that can come from becoming Americanized while your family remains Ghanian. What I got was fooled into reading a book with pretty cover and an African title believing it would be enlightening when, in reality, it turned out to be street lit.

The four friends (and this term is used far too loosely in this book) are Kimberly, the narrator; Trish, the hustler who will use anyone or anything to get ahead; Staci, a new mother; and Courtney, the good girl that keeps picking bad boys. When Trish sleeps with Courtney’s boyfriend, the friends take sides and Kimberly is left out in the cold. Eventually the friends reconnect and Kimberly goes back to Ghana to visit her grandmother. That’s it, end of story.

This book bothered me on so many levels. At one point in the story the friends head for the annual Ghanian picnic, with Staci’s baby in tow, and proceed to drink the entire time. The author justified it by saying the baby was too young to know what was happening. Never mind that it’s illegal to drink and drive and you’re putting people in harm’s way. Promoted as a reclamation of her past, the main character does not even return to Ghana until the last two chapters of the book. The first 137 pages of the 158 page book are spent talking about complete and utter foolishness.

Beyond the ridiculousness of the story line, the editing was absolutely awful. At times I found myself re-reading sentences several times trying to make sense of them, only to realize that there were actually three sentences combined into one, with absolutely no punctuation. The author also struggled to stay consistent with the voice of the narrator. In several instances the paragraph would start with Kimberly narrating in third person and by the second or third sentence, it would become one of the other women speaking in first person and then switch back to Kimberly’s narration.

The story line, the improper editing and the annoying narration all made this very short read a difficult and tedious one.

What did you like about this book? 
The cover is colorful.

What did you dislike about this book? 
The story line, the improper editing and the annoying narration.

What could the author do to improve this book? 
Not everyone is meant to be a writer and this book is clearly an indication of that. If writing is her passion, then she would be well served to find a real editor. There were far too many grammatical and structural mistakes made. A good proofreader and/or editor would have never allowed this book to be published in its current state.


158pp
Published September 2009


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