cover image How You Grow Wings

How You Grow Wings

Rimma Onoseta. Algonquin, $18.99 (336p) ISBN 978-1-64375-191-7

Onoseta’s devastatingly vulnerable debut, told nonlinearly in two teen Nigerian girls’ dual perspectives, portrays a tempestuous sisterhood amid colorism, familial trauma, and financial precarity. Cheta and Zam’s antithetical personalities have always put them at odds while navigating their verbally and physically abusive mother and emotionally withholding father. Confident and stubborn Cheta receives the brunt of their mother’s ire, and is increasingly resentful of her younger sister Zam, who avoids confrontation at all costs. When only Zam is invited to live with wealthy family members in Abuja, the promise of freedom and comfort for only one sister widens the rift between them. As the siblings traverse their own paths—Zam in Abuja and Cheta, who fled following Zam’s departure to live with friends, in Benin City—they each reflect on and reconcile with the hurt, loneliness, and uncertainty they were forced to live through. Onoseta uses visceral prose to sensitively depict Zam and Cheta’s home life and the abuse they endured. The teens’ complicated familial relationships, further ravaged by wealth disparities and societal presumptions, presents an arresting look at two girls embarking on diverging futures in a character-driven story that promises—and delivers—hope for a brighter tomorrow. Ages 14–up. Agent: Kari Sutherland, Bradford Literary. (Aug.)