Destinee Sutton's Reviews > A Girl Named Disaster

A Girl Named Disaster by Nancy Farmer
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's review
Feb 01, 2008

really liked it
bookshelves: newbery, africa, audio, religion, tween, adventure, families, death
Read in September, 2009

Wow. It took me a long time to listen to this whole book, so my impression of it is a little fragmented. First off, it's about a girl (12 or 13 years old) named Nhamo (which means "disaster") who lives in a remote village in Mozambique. She's kind of a Cinderella character because her mother is dead and she lives with her aunt who makes her do all the hard work (but she's not as miserable as Cinderella). The story is told in the third person, but Nhamo's POV is definitely primary.

Nhamo's tribe is Shona, so we learn quite a lot about the Shona religion (and Farmer gives us an appendix with more info as well). As Nhamo embarks on a dangerous journey, she relies more and more on her beliefs to give her strength.

The story takes place in the 1980s, so towards the end of the book there is a conflict between modern, Western religion and Nhamo's native religion. We also learn a little about the conflicts between the native Africans of Zimbabwe and the white settlers/invaders.

A lot of Nhamo's story is about surviving alone in the wilderness, a little like Island of the Blue Dolphins. Nhamo tells a lot of great stories passed down from her grandmother. She deals with the absence of her parents. She celebrates her victories by making up songs that are like, "I am Nhamo! I am the best!" It's hard not to love her for being so clever and so brave.

And the audio book was amazing. The reader did wonderful accents, and really gave each character a life, especially Crocodile Guts, Dr. van Heerden, and Ambuya.

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