Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “A Girl Named Disaster” as Want to Read:
A Girl Named Disaster
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

A Girl Named Disaster

3.77 of 5 stars 3.77  ·  rating details  ·  2,920 ratings  ·  350 reviews
Nhamo is a virtual slave in her African village in 1981. Before her twelfth birthday, Nhamo runs away to escape marriage to a cruel husband, and spends a year going from Zimbabwe to Mozambique. Alone on the river in a stolen boat, swept into the uncharted heart of a great lake, she battles drowning, starvation, wild animals.
Published (first published 1996)
more details... edit details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about A Girl Named Disaster, please sign up.

Be the first to ask a question about A Girl Named Disaster

This book is not yet featured on Listopia. Add this book to your favorite list »

Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
filter  |  sort: default (?)  |  rating details
Tricia Lenington
Excellent book!!! I highly recommend this one. I think it's a great way to understand a little better the complexities of African beliefs and tribal life. It's not a "religion" to them, it's a way of life (believing everything has a spirit, for example).
Jun 11, 2007 Hannah rated it 2 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: anyone who can read a LONG and never ending book
i personally hated this book. although i read it with a class i truely hated it. i think even if i read it by myself i still would not have liked it. its not that the writing is bad its just that it goes on forever and you just get tired of it.
This took me forever to read. I don't know why? I guess I wasn't reading 20 minutes everyday. Oh well. But, it is a really good book. Interesting.
This book is so boring. DON'T READ IT!!!!!!!!!!!! YOU DON'T DESERVE THE TORTURE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
"I am she who lifts mountains
When she goes to hunt
Who wears a mamba for a headband
And a lion for a belt
I swallow elephants whole
And pick my teeth with rhinoceros horns
Let them hear my words!
Nhamo is coming
And her hunger is great."

—Nhamo, "A Girl Named Disaster", P. 101

"(P)eople are like plants. Some shoot up like weeds, and some are slow like fruit trees. In the end, the fruit trees are worth more."

—Ambuya, "A Girl Named Disaster, P. 21

I would give three and a half stars to
This book is about the young girl Nhamo who leaves her little village in Mozambique in order to find her father's family in Zimbabwe to avoid an impending marriage to a cruel man. She gets stuck on an island and is forced to figure out how to survive on her own while also receiving guidance from the spirit world. By far my favorite part of this book was its rich depiction of folklore. I learned a lot about the beliefs of people from Mozambique and Zimbabwe which I had never even heard of before. ...more
A Girl Named Disaster is typical young adult lit fare as far as the main components go. Absent parents, family members who don't treat Nhamo well, feeling marginalized in all areas of life, etc. But she has extraordinary powers that set her apart from her peers. What gives this book its richness is its setting.

Nhamo's family lives in a remote village in Mozambique. Nhamo's grandmother advises her to run away when her family plans on giving her in marriage to the brother of a man her father murd
A girl's book -- boys likely would not relate to the very female nature of this book. Nhamo (whose name means Disaster) lives in the African country of Mozambique in the early 1980s. The native religion and customs of the time will be strange to a youth reader today. Because the spirits tell her family that she is the cause of a cholera epidemic, they send her to be the fourth wife of a cruel man in another town. She runs away, and much of the book consists of her adventures on a boat and on isl ...more
Jennifer Artha
I started reading this book with the whole English class. At first I was totally into this book, and i couldn't stop reading and went straight through chapter 18. While reading till the mid part of the book, suddenly I felt really bored with the story, it's not that i didn't like it... it's just that it was pretty boring with her just staying on an island and got stranded over and over. There was also some pretty disgusting things that were in the book that is supposed to be read by girls, becau ...more
This book would have gotten a 3 or even a 4 if it had continued how it started. For example I enjoyed Nhamo's insights on why her cousin was so patient and good tempered (wouldn't you be if you got to sit in the shade).I liked getting to know the culture through her family relations but once she started journeying on her own thats where I felt like I was trudging through the book. The journeying lasted way too long (reminded me of Cast Away). When she finally came back to human habitation I want ...more
My daughter read this in school and said I MUST read it. I liked it as well. It is like Island of the Blue Dolphins (which I also loved): an adolescent girl forced to survive on her own. This one takes place in Mozambique, and the girl is Shona. I really felt that I was inside this girl, her thoughts and feelings were so well portrayed. While she is alone she talks to spirits: her deceased mother, the deceased owner of the boat she is using and the water spirits. The fun part is that they talk b ...more
Joel Richardson
A Girl Named Disaster by Nancy Farmer African traditions, religion, female
"coming of age," race, nature, class,
globalization, National Book Award

When I was in 6th grade I read The Hatchet, an exciting book about a solitary boy in the middle of the frozen Canadian tundra who survives alone for a long period of time. It was one of my favorite books growing up. A Girl Named Disaster reminds me a great deal of Gary Paulsen's thrilling novel, but just change the boy with Nhamo, the Cana
(CIP) While journeying to Zimbabwe, eleven-year-old Nhamo struggles to escape drowning and starvation and in so doing comes close to the luminous world of the African spirits

Review: This substantial, well-researched novel begins in a Mozambiquan village and surrounding settlements, where an engaging plot—involving the 11-year-old protagonist, Nhamo, and a cast of reasonably well-drawn supporting characters—begins to unfold. When Nhamo runs away to escape an unwanted marriage, she enters into a s
This isn't my favorite book I've read. It was really long, and I had a hard time getting into it; in fact, I don't think I ever just fell into the book like I do with others. A Girl Named Disaster tells the story of Nhamo, an African girl who lives in a village with her family. Taking place when some of Africa—like Zimbabwe—is Westernized, Nhamo undergoes a journey of escape, survival, and self-discovery. She leaves her village to escape an arranged marriage mandated by the spirits, and spends s ...more
James Gordon
Nhamo lived with her dead mom’s family. Her father had abandoned her mother before Nhamo was even born. Living in a tribe who believe children belonged to the father, Nhamo was not appreciated or even treated very well by her relatives. When a cholera epidemic sweeps over the tribe, her family’s only explanation was that they were being punished for Nhamo’s presence and they decide to force her into a marriage with an older man to settle her father’s past transgressions. Her loving grandmother, ...more
Ahmad Sharabiani
A Girl Named Disaster, Nancy Farmer (1941)
عنوان: دختری به نام فاجعه؛ نویسنده: نانسی فارمر؛ مترجم: ناهیده هاشمی؛ مشخصات نشر: تهران، روشنگران و مطالعات زنان؛ 1386، در 340 ص، شابک: 9789648564679؛ 9648564671؛ موضوع: داستانهای نویسندگان آمریکایی قرن 20 م

عنوان: دختری به نام دردسر؛ نویسنده: نانسی فارمر؛ مترجم: حبیبه گوهری راد؛ مهدیه (باران) محمداصغری؛ مشخصات نشر: تهران، نکوراد، رادمهر، توسن دانش، دنیای آفتاب؛ 1387، در 352 ص، شابک: 9789649602721؛

زندگی دختری به نام «نامو» ا
This book is ANYTHING but torture!
Nancy Farmer has really outdid herself this time! This book truly represents the rights that all children possess since birth to have family, to have freedom, to have justice.
Nhamo, forced to courtship with a man she barely knows, flees her village in a stolen boat on a voyage to freedom. And with the assistance of her mother's spirit, a dead man and two water spirits, Nhamo doesn't have to face it all alone. With her courage, nature, spirit (and spirits) and fa
Ardea Smith
Title / Author / Publication Date: A Girl Named Disaster/Nancy Farmer/1996

Genre: Fiction

Format: Paperback

Plot summary: While journeying to Zimbabwe from Mozambique, eleven-year-old Nhamo struggles to escape drowning and starvation and in so doing comes close to the luminous world of the African spirits.

Considerations or precautions for readers advisory: The story deals with female menstruation and child brides or arranged marriages.

Review citation: Tillotson, Laura. (1996). A Girl Named Disaste
Alexandra Spangler
To tell the truth, I hadn't expected to love this book as much as I did. However, I found myself in a completely new world. The novel was about a young Afircan girl named Nhamo, which means "disaster" in the language of her people. Ever since her mother died, Nhamo has been treated like an outcast and made to do all the chores for her aunt and uncle, while their daughter sits and does what she wants. In this inspiring tale, Nhamo is told by her grandmother (who is the only person in the village ...more
A Girl Named Disaster is about a girl called Nhamo whose father had ran away after he killed a man and her mother had been killed by a leopard when she was very young and her grandma has been taking care of her ever since.One day when cholera strikes, her village seeks a false witch doctor and he blames Nhamo for everything for what her father had done and is angering the spirit of the dead man, she has to marry the brother and become his junior wife.
Fearing to live with him, Nhamo rows away on
Terry Marzell
Farmer, Nancy. A Girl Named Disaster. New York: Orchard Books. 1996. Target Audience: Ages 11-13. Reading Level: 5.9. Awards: Newberry Honor Book; ALA Best Book for Young Adults; The Horn Book Fanfare Book Award; School Library Journal Best Book of the Year. Nhamo, an eleven-year-old girl living in a traditional tribal village in Mozambique, flees her home and family when they decide to force her into an arranged marriage to an older man with two other wives and a reputation for brutality. Alone ...more
A story about a girl who is hated by her family and runs away to escape being force to marry. I think I would have enjoyed this better if I wasn't reading The Island of the Blue Dolphin with my daughter at the same time. I think the two together made for a little too much "girl survives in the wild against all odds" for my own tastes. That said I enjoyed the story and it made me really glad that I do not have to eat bugs in order to survive. And it had a pretty happy ending which is always nice.
Leah Benthin
The story tells the life of a young girl named Nhamo who lives in a small village in Africa. She is an orphan and lives with her extended family who are very poor. In the story, we are told that, when he was alive, her father murdered a man whose family now want revenge. Nhamo is to be forced to marry the murdered man's brother otherwise his spirit will cast a deadly illness onto the whole village. The book then tells of Nhamo's journey as she flees the village and makes her way to Zimbabwe to f ...more
C. Grace
I read this book when I was in sixth grade. It really went over some tough topics. It took me about a week to read it and I don't remember everything about it, but I do remember that I absolutely loved this book. I suggest it to readers of all ages. Obviously it's the maturity of the reader not the age. It's a long book I do agree, but I never felt like the subject got boring, it was a new adventure every chapter. Any way I seriously recommend this book.
Carrie Slager
This isn’t actually the first time I’ve read this book but I hadn’t read it for several years so when I saw it in the library the other day I decided to give it another try. I remember loving it, but how was it this time around? Well, it was okay. It’s nothing really all that special, despite the fact it was a Newberry honor book in 1997.

It’s an interesting look at life in remote Africa that’s both interesting and unsettling. On one hand, it was fascinating to see the spirituality of a different
Maia Ciambriello
I was required to read this book and I thought I'd hate it. But honestly, I really enjoyed this book. The hardships Nhamo must go through makes the book interesting. When she travels through the spirit world, you feel like your in the spirit world too. However, this book is very sad. Not sad enough for me to cry, but still pretty sad. I would recommend this book to someone who is looking for a challenge. It's a great book!
Katie Ruggiero
"A Girl Named Disaster" is an interesting book! It's non-fiction and the author prefaced the whole entire thing so it's even more interesting! Most times I don't like non-fiction but this one I loved! Also it's a good book to read because its about something sad happening in different parts of the world and we don't really learn about it. Thats mostly why I liked this book!
Gwen Sijangga
This book has a lot of details, which makes it boring for people my age. Plus, some parts of the book aren't very useful to the plot of the story. I gave this book two stars 'cause its not really the kind of book I would pick up and read in the library. Overall, I would recommend this book for senior students instead of middle school students.
I luv this book! If you havent read this book or are not planning to your really missing out on ALOT and I feel bad for you!
:-) (-: :D :-D I really hope you read this book you HAVE TO!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! I finished it and now i'm trying to get everyone in the class to read it PLEASE READ THIS BOOK !!!!!!!
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 99 100 next »
  • Volcano: The Eruption and Healing of Mount St. Helens
  • What Jamie Saw
  • Sugaring Time
  • Graven Images
  • Journey Outside
  • The Loner
  • Yolonda's Genius
  • Carver: A Life in Poems
  • Like Jake and Me
  • The Dark-Thirty: Southern Tales of the Supernatural
  • Eleanor Roosevelt: A Life of Discovery
  • The Avion My Uncle Flew
  • Bright Island
  • In the Beginning: Creation Stories from Around the World
  • What Hearts
  • A Fine White Dust
  • Crazy Lady!
  • Somewhere in the Darkness
Nancy was born in 1941 in Phoenix and grew up in a hotel on the Arizona-Mexico border where she worked the switchboard at the age of nine. She also found time to hang out in the old state prison and the hobo jungle along the banks of the Colorado River. She attended Reed College in Portland, Oregon, earning her BA in 1963. Instead of taking a regular job, she joined the Peace Corps and was sent to ...more
More about Nancy Farmer...
The House of the Scorpion (Matteo Alacran, #1) The Sea of Trolls (Sea of Trolls, #1) The Ear, the Eye, and the Arm The Land of the Silver Apples (Sea of Trolls, #2) The Lord of Opium (Matteo Alacran #2)

Share This Book

“The other girls in the village never felt restless. Nhamo was like a pot of boiling water. 'I want...I want...,' she whispered to herself, but she didn't know what she wanted and she had no idea how to find it. ” 10 likes
“The high point of your life was when you knocked me down” 10 likes
More quotes…