The Door of No Return

Publisher: Andersen Press

Kofi Offin enjoys hanging out with his friend Ebo, swimming in the river and summoning up enough courage to talk to the beautiful Ama. He lives in Upper Kwanta, in the Asante kingdom, in 1860, in what is now Ghana. Kofi is preoccupied with school, where their teacher insists they speak English, not Twi, and with the rivalry between him and his bully cousin, who also likes Ama. Kofi has challenged his cousin to a swimming competition and is practising hard.

But when a sudden death occurs during a festival between rival villages, Kofi ends up fighting for his life. His world is changed forever and there is no return. How can he keep dreaming when there is little hope? But his dreams may be the key to his freedom…

Written in verse, this novel is a compelling, page-turning read. Kwame Alexander doesn’t flinch from brutal realities, though there is much light and joy too. Kofi’s village life is vividly, richly depicted – from the games of Owe that his grandfather always wins, to the endless yam meals in yam season.

This is the first in a trilogy about slavery, about the ‘African part of African-American’, as Kwame Alexander notes. It could be a bleak story, but it is shot through with hope. A compassionate, vital read.

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