Booklist Reviews

Forna was only a child when her father, Mohamed, was taken by the police to a Sierra Leone jail for his supposed involvement in an assassination conspiracy. Mohamed, a brilliant and kind physician, met his wife, Maureen, when he studied in Scotland. They married against the wishes of her family, and after Mohamed's older brother died, he brought his wife and their three children to a small town in Sierra Leone. Mohamed was the only doctor in the town, but soon he found another calling: politics. He joined the All People's Congress party, hoping to break Sierra Leone's People's Party's stronghold on parliamentary positions. Despite military intervention, the APC took the many seats they won, and Mohamed became the minister of finance. But Mohamed's political troubles were not at an end, as he saw his party become as corrupt as SLPP had been. He was eventually arrested and executed for treason. Forna's stunning memoir is both a tribute to her brave father and an important look at the sad state of politics in Sierra Leone. ((Reviewed January 1 & 15, 2003)) Copyright 2003 Booklist Reviews

Kirkus Reviews

London-based broadcaster Forna somberly chronicles her search for the truth about her father's 1974 arrest and subsequent hanging in Sierra Leone.Mohamed Forna was the first of his family, a regionally powerful clan, to attend university. He studied medicine at St. Andrew's in Scotland and in the 1960s went back to Sierra Leone with his young white wife. Their daughter begins her story with a description of the first ten years of her own life, leading up to the day she last saw her father, accused of carrying out a bombing attack on a government minister. Forna recalls that her parents were initially happy together during the years he ran a small clinic and hospital he had founded in a rural area to help his people. But her father's increasing involvement in politics led to estrangement, the couple separated, and her mother took the children briefly to Scotland. They returned when Mohammed was appointed Finance Minister, but the marriage continued to unravel, as did the country. Forna affectingly but dispassionately details Sierra Leone's long, bloody spiral--still ongoing--into chaos. Her father was removed from office. Corrupt dictators ended democratic rule, destroyed the economy, and ruthlessly punished opponents like Mohammed Forna, who believed in democracy. His daughter also describes her encounters with racism as a child at English schools, her mother's remarriage and disappearance from their lives, and her relations with Mohammed's new wife, who had to protect his children as well as try to save his life. Returning to Sierra Leone in the early '90s was not easy; Forna's investigation into her father's death revealed unrepentant complicity and lying that said much about the current state of politics in a country that has wantonly destroyed its future.A searing indictment of African tyranny mingled with bittersweet childhood memories.First printing of 35,000; $50,000 ad/promo Copyright Kirkus 2002 Kirkus/BPI Communications.All rights reserved

Library Journal Reviews

Forna's father, Mohamed, was a leading politician in newly liberated Sierra Leone but landed in jail as a prisoner of conscience when democracy turned to dictatorship. Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information.

Library Journal Reviews

Forna, a writer and broadcaster who lives in London, has written this memoir as an act of catharsis and discovery. The daughter of a white British mother and a black African father from Sierra Leone, Forna focuses on her attempts to discover why her father, Mohamed, who became a prisoner of conscience, was executed for treason while she was a teenager going to school in England. Her journey is both mental and physical. She reexamines her childhood memories in painful detail and describes her later trips to Sierra Leone as an investigative reporter with a personal mission. After extensive interviews with some of her father's accusers, she shows conclusively that he was framed by his political enemies, who were led by the president of the country. More than a tale of vindication, this book is filled with powerful descriptions and moving details and if overly long is nevertheless an important work. Highly recommended for most libraries. [Previewed in Prepub Alert, LJ 19/15/02.]-A.O. Edmonds, Ball State Univ., Muncie, IN Copyright 2003 Cahners Business Information.

Publishers Weekly Reviews

Forna saw her father for the last time on July 30, 1974; she was 10 years old. In this harrowing memoir-cum-detective story, journalist Forna searches for the truth about her father's execution in Sierra Leone after his treason conviction for allegedly attempting a coup upon the government in which he had once been a cabinet minister. Mohamed Forna, a British-educated doctor and activist in what was, in the 1960s, a fledgling democracy extricating itself from British colonialist rule, resigned from what had become a dictatorship rife with corruption and chaos. The consequences of that resignation culminated in eight executions and precipitated the descent into anarchy of Africa's poorest nation. Forna writes with a compelling mix of distance and anguish, intent on explaining her father's death and reclaiming his memory. Lush descriptions of her idyllic childhood provide eerie counterpoint to chilling depictions of the hell Sierra Leone had become upon her return in recent years, a place where bands of child warriors, hacking off limbs as both punishment and warning, have created a mutilated populace. The poverty her father tried to fight remains the only constant in the war-torn land. A harsh critic of her father's executioners, Forna nevertheless equivocates on the dictatorships that have wreaked havoc throughout Africa, querying her own identity as a diaspora mixed-race Afro-European. Reminiscent of Isabelle Allende's House of the Spirits, Forna's work is a powerfully and elegantly written mix of complex history, riveting memoir and damning exposé. Agent, David Godwin. (Jan.) Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information.