From the winner of the 2018 Writers' Guild Award
In 1978, aged twelve, Sissy Olikara was living with her parents and baby brother on a school campus, on the outskirts of Lusaka. But much has changed since her childhood in Zambia: she is now a translator, based in the United States. Looking back, Sissy remembers the gentle routine her family enjoyed, before a series of events disrupt the balance: Ezekiel leaves her parents' employ under a cloud, Jonah arrives to replace him, and then her father leaves, suddenly, to go back to India.
The region is also in transition, with Rhodesia to the south and Mozambique to the east both embroiled in internal wars, and when a civilian plane is shot down, the political repercussions begin to spill into their daily lives. With her father gone, Sissy's gaze turns to her mother, Laila, who struggles to cope and must rely on the people around them. Trying to negotiate her way through adolescence, Sissy finds herself at the centre of a complex web of emotions and events that have a long-lasting effect on her.