This Thing Called the Future

Khosi lives with her beloved grandmother Gogo, her little sister Zi, and her weekend mother in a matchbox house on the outskirts of Pietermaritzburg, South Africa. In that shantytown, it seems like somebody is dying all the time. Billboards everywhere warn of the disease of the day. Her Gogo goes to a traditional healer when there is trouble, but her mother, who works in another city and is wasting away before their eyes, refuses even to go to the doctor. She is afraid and Khosi doesn’t know what it is that makes the blood come up from her choking lungs. Witchcraft? A curse? AIDS? Can Khosi take her to the doctor? Gogo asks. No, says Mama, Khosi must stay in school. Only education will save Khosi and Zi from the poverty and ignorance of the old Zulu ways.School, though, is not bad. There is a boy her own age there, Little Man Ncobo, and she loves the color of his skin, so much darker than her own, and his blue-black lips, but he mocks her when a witch’s curse, her mother’s wasting sorrow, and a neighbor’s accusations send her and Gogo scrambling off to the sangoma’s hut in search of a healing potion.J.L. Powers holds an MA in African history from State University of New York-Albany and Stanford University. She won a Fulbright-Hays grant to study Zulu in South Africa, and served as a visiting scholar in Stanford’s African Studies Department. This is her second novel for young adults.

See the review at WOW Review, Volume 5, Issue 2

Scribbling Women

In 1855, Nathaniel Hawthorne wrote to his publisher, complaining about the irritating fad of “scribbling women.” Whether they were written by professionals, by women who simply wanted to connect with others, or by those who wanted to leave a record of their lives, those “scribbles” are fascinating, informative, and instructive.Margaret Catchpole was a transported prisoner whose eleven letters provide the earliest record of white settlement in Australia. Writing hundreds of years later, Aboriginal writer Doris Pilkey wrote a novel about another kind of exile in Australia. Young Isabella Beeton, one of twenty-one children and herself the mother of four, managed to write a groundbreaking cookbook before she died at the age of twenty-eight. World traveler and journalist Nelly Bly used her writing to expose terrible injustices. Sei Shonagan has left us poetry and journal entries that provide a vivid look at the pampered life and intrigues in Japan’s imperial court. Ada Blackjack, sole survivor of a disastrous scientific expedition in the Arctic, fought isolation and fear with her precious Eversharp pencil. Dr. Dang Thuy Tram’s diary, written in a field hospital in the steaming North Vietnamese jungle while American bombs fell, is a heartbreaking record of fear and hope.Many of the women in “Scribbling Women” had eventful lives. They became friends with cannibals, delivered babies, stole horses, and sailed on whaling ships. Others lived quietly, close to home. But each of them has illuminated the world through her words.

Thunder Over Kandahar

A powerful novel of enduring friendship set amid the terror and chaos of present-day Afghanistan.Best friends Tamanna and Yasmine cannot believe their good fortune when a school is set up in their Afghan village; however, their dreams for the future are shattered when the Taliban burns down the school and threatens the teacher and students with death.As Tamanna faces an arranged marriage to an older man and the Taliban targets Yasmine’s western-educated family, the girls realize they must flee. Traveling through the heart of Taliban territory, the two unaccompanied young women find themselves in mortal danger. After suffering grave injuries, Tamanna from a fall and Yasmine from a suicide bombing, the girls are left without the one thing that has helped them survive — each other.Reunited years later in England, Tamanna and Yasmine discover that, despite the horrific events of the past, they are both driven to return home by memories of their families and a longing for their country.The book features stunning photographs by award-winning photojournalist Rafal Gerszak (The New York Times, BBC World News) that bring readers an immediate sense of the faces and landscape of Afghanistan.Filled with tension and drama, Thunder Over Kandahar paints a vivid portrait of the perils of contemporary Afghanistan.