No Heaven for Good Boys

Keisha Bush. Random House, $27 (336p) ISBN 978-0-399-59196-9
Bush’s vivid and heart-wrenching debut paints a jarring portrait of Dakar, Senegal, inspired by the author’s encounters with the talibés, boys forced by their teachers to beg on the street. The novel follows Ibrahimah, age six, as he fights for survival under the abusive hands of Marabout Ahmed, a duplicitous stranger who has tricked Ibrahimah’s parents into sending their child to join his older cousin Etienne to beg in Dakar under the guise of studying the Quran. Ibrahimah sustains himself with memories of his village and the family he left behind, in order to cope with the physical, verbal, and sexual abuse they endure from his and Etienne’s teacher, while Etienne determines to rescue them both. Snippets from the perspective of Ibrahimah’s family deepen the kaleidoscopic portrait of a family whose faith blinds them against hearsay about the talibés’ treatment. Ibrahimah is portrayed with realistic childlike innocence, which informs his occasional magical encounters with animals, such as a red bird that lands on his knee like a “ball of fire.” Etienne, in contrast, has an all-knowing edge from the trauma he’s suffered. This tale of survival and familial love will move readers. (Jan.)
Reviewed on : 09/29/2020
Release date: 01/26/2021
Genre: Fiction
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Audio book sample courtesy of Penguin Random House Audio
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