Crossing the Stream

Publisher: Cassava Republic Press

Ato is desperate to win the competition to visit Nnoma, the island bird sanctuary his late father helped create. For their project he and his friends Dzifa and Leslie plant some vegetables near the building where the charismatic Prophet of Fire leads his services. And every weekend Ato stays with his nana, much to his mother’s discomfort. Nana is rumoured to be a witch, and Ato’s mother tells him not to sit on the couch on her porch. Yet Nana has delicious food and brilliant stories of when Ato’s father was a boy. Maybe his mother’s worries are for nothing? But when everything around the House of Fire starts to die, Ato gets mixed up in a bigger mystery than he’d bargained for.

Set in contemporary Ghana, this is an engaging mystery with real heart at its core. Through family stories, and his own investigations, Ato learns not to judge by appearances, or hearsay, and he remains a likeable, good-hearted boy throughout. There is real wisdom to be won in his coming-of-age, and some excellent characters by his side, not least Dzifa and Nana. Grief is explored too, in a sensitive way. This would inspire many different interesting conversations.

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