Thursday 7 September 2017
Review: A Jigsaw of Fire and Stars - Yaba Badoe
Sante was a baby when she was washed ashore in a sea-chest laden with treasure. It seems she is the sole survivor of the tragic sinking of a ship carrying migrants and refugees. Her people.
Fourteen years on she's a member of Mama Rose's unique and dazzling circus. But, from their watery grave, the unquiet dead are calling Sante to avenge them:
A bamboo flute. A golden bangle. A ripening mango which must not fall... if Sante is to tell their story and her own.
Rich in the rhythms and colours of Africa and glittering circus days. Unflinching in its dark revelations about life. Yaba Badoe's novel is beautiful and cruel and will linger long in the memory.
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You can also watch this interview with Yaba Badoe:
A Jigsaw of Fire and Stars is a beautiful book inside and out, I mean have you even seen that cover? Talk about stunning! Luckily the story matches up to it or I'd have been really disappointed. This is the story of fourteen year old Sante, a young girl who was adopted into a travelling family circus after they found her washed up on a beach as a baby in a box full of treasure. Sante knows very little about where she came from apart from having a recurring nightmare about a shipwreck but when her path crosses with someone she remembers from her dream secrets start to unravel and Sante finds herself in danger.
At a time when there is such a huge refugee crisis I think it's incredibly important to have more books like this one, books that touch on some of the horrific things that can refugees suffer, the way they are so desperate to escape their current situation that they will give every last penny they have for the chance of reaching somewhere better and how unscrupulous criminals prey on them and abuse their trust. This book does touch on some darker themes such as people trafficking and also underage sex work but it doesn't go into graphic details and is still suitable for a younger audience. It would be very easy for this kind of story to become too dark and depressing to read but Yaba Badoe has lightened it up & just enough with a touch of magical realism. Her writing is rich and evocative and I was completely drawn into Sante's world.
I think I would have liked the story to be a little longer, just so we could spend more time with Sante and her adopted family and seen more of their life travelling and entertaining tourists for money, they had quite a unique show thanks to the abilities each of the performers brought to the tale and I would have loved to spend more time on that side of things. I also would have liked more time devoted to Scarlett's story but I really enjoyed the way Sante was able to communicate with the ghosts of her birth family and was able to help them get vengeance for the way they died.
A Jigsaw of Fire and Stars was a fantastic debut from Yaba Badoe and it's definitely left me interested to see what she writes in the future. I'd love to read more in this vein from her in the future, especially bringing into play more of the Ghanian mythology and the magic we saw from Sante here.
Source: Received from Zephyr in exchange for an honest review
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Hardback / Kindle: