cover image Little Family

Little Family

Ishmael Beah. Riverhead, $27 (272p) ISBN 978-0-7352-1177-3

The allure of wealth tests a makeshift family in this vibrant outing from Beah (A Long Way Gone). Eighteen-year-old Khoudiemata acts as a motherly figure for a group of five young people living on the margins of the city of Foloiya in an unnamed African country that will remind readers of Sierra Leone. They spend their days roving through town and stealing essentials to survive. Twenty-year-old Elimane, a member of the family, connects with a rich man they call William Handkerchief, who enlists the “little family” in shady dealings in exchange for payments of hundreds of dollars. Khoudiemata uses her share to hide the reality of her current situation and befriend a group of young wealthy elites in Foloiya, including Frederick Cardew-Boston, scion of a powerfully connected family. Khoudiemata agrees to a weekend away with Frederick and his friends, but Elimane’s concern about her involvement with Frederick leads to devastating consequences. Beah informs his characters’ blend of street savvy and naïveté with bursts of details about the experiences that shaped them in a bustling and crooked society. Fans of African postcolonial fiction are in for a treat. Agent: Flip Brophy. (Apr.)