cover image The Door of No Return (The Door of No Return #1)

The Door of No Return (The Door of No Return #1)

Kwame Alexander. Little, Brown, $17.99 (432p) ISBN 978-0-316-44186-5

Newbery Medalist Alexander’s gripping historical novel in verse, a trilogy opener rooted in the Asante Kingdom in 1860, centers 11-year-old Kofi Offin—a child deeply connected to water. In early, lyrical chapters that evoke a dreamlike childhood, Kofi lives with his family in Upper Kwanta, where he swims in the river that is his namesake, engages with best mate Ebo, crushes on longtime friend Ama, and listens to the tales of his village-storyteller grandfather, Nana Mosi—who details “the past/ like it lives/ in him,/ like it still matters.” He also clashes with his cousin, a bully, and Mr. Goodluck Phillip, the schoolteacher imparting “the Queen’s English” and Shakespeare to students speaking their native Twi. When an annual festival pits wrestlers from Upper and Lower Kwanta against one another, and Kofi’s older brother, Kwasi, is set to represent their village, an unexpected death sets off a series of tragedies that upend Kofi’s world. Interweaving moments of joyful exuberance and heartbreaking sadness via sensate lines by turns sweet and stinging, Alexander’s sweeping novel conjures a captivating, resonant world of African tradition, life, and ancestral wisdom. Ages 10–up. Agent: Arielle Eckstut, Levine Greenberg Rostan Literary. (Sept.)