Synopsis from Soho Press:
Rutendo Tavengerwei’s unforgettable novel—spanning Zimbabwe and the United Kingdom—offers a beautiful and honest look at adolescence, friendship, and the capacity for courage.
For fifteen-year-old Shamiso, hope is nothing but a leap into darkness. Grief-stricken and confused after her father’s mysterious death in a car crash, she’s shipped off to boarding school. For Tanyaradzwa, a classmate whose life has been turned upside down by a cancer diagnosis, hope is the only reason to keep fighting.
As an unexpected friendship blossoms between them, Tanyaradzwa helps Shamiso confront her grief and fear of loss. In opening herself to someone with a potentially fatal illness, Shamiso knows that she might be opening herself to more pain. Yet Tanyaradzwa is the only one who gives her the strength to ask the burning question: What really happened to her father?
About: Hope is Our Only Wing is a young adult fiction written by Rutendo Tavengerwei. It was originally published on 5/3/2018 by Hot Key Books and then was recently published on September 2019 by Soho Press, an imprint of Penguin Random House, 216 pages. The genres are young adult, Africa, contemporary, and fiction. This book is the author’s debut and is intended for readers ages 14 and up, grades 9 and up. According to the publisher’s website, “Soho Press is an independent book publisher based in Manhattan’s Union Square. Founded in 1986, Soho publishes 90 books a year across its Soho Press, Soho Crime and Soho Teen lists, and is known for introducing bold literary voices, award-winning international crime fiction, and groundbreaking young adult fiction.” Please see below for more information about the author and publisher.
My Experience: I started reading Hope is Our Only Wing on 9/19/2019 and finished it on 9/22/2019. I love the writing, especially how the author describes the sceneries and surroundings. I like getting to know Zimbabwe and the differences in funeral processions. I like Tanyaradzwa because she’s nice despite her shortcomings. The main character, Shamiso, takes a bit of time for me to get used to. She has an attitude but she’s tough enough to prevent bullies from telling her what to do. The politics takes me near the end of the story to understand what’s going on. There are many terms I don’t understand and they’re not listed in the glossary: ZESA, fat cakes, load-shedding, etc.
This book is told in the third person point of view following Shamiso, 15 as she gets ready for her first day at the boarding school in Zimbabwe. She’s currently in mourning of her father’s recent death. Her father was a journalist who before his death, chased a newsworthy story. The alternative view is Tanyaradzwa, Shamiso’s classmate and roommate at boarding school. Tanyaradzwa has a secret but she doesn’t let it holds her back. Both girls’ trouble lives could only be healed through hope. There are many views for smaller characters. This book is divided into 5 parts where it starts with what’s currently happening and then goes back to weeks before and then weeks later. A glossary is helpful at the end of the story.
Hope is Our Only Wing is an interesting read though there are a few unclear parts. One chapter seems to start with a new view on Tinotenda then it moves on to Shamiso’s view. When reading about Shamiso intentionally ignoring Tanyaradzwa, the story is then talks about Tanyaradzwa but still referring to “she” so I thought I was reading about Shamiso being hot until she vomited and Shamiso pushes back her chair to help; only then do I realized who I’m reading about. This book is after all an advanced copy and unclear sentences could be edited before final publishing. The story itself is interesting and I like the unexpected surprises of Tanyaradzwa’s secret and Shamiso’s father’s accident. I do recommend everyone to read the final published book, just not the ARC copy.
Pro: Zimbabwe, boarding school, family, politics, short chapters, friendship, Hope
Con: can’t tell who she is, need more definition in glossary for uncommon terms, some unclear sentences
I rate it 4 stars!
About the Author:
Rutendo Nomsa Tavengerwei grew up in Zimbabwe before moving to South Africa to study Law. One of her greatest influences in writing remains her father, who tutored her from the age of nine, teaching her how to write and how to play around with language when telling a story. Rutendo currently works and lives in Geneva, Switzerland. Hope Is Our Only Wing is her debut novel. (Photo and info obtained from Soho Press’ website).
More Information about Soho Press
***Disclaimer: Many thanks to Soho Press for the opportunity to read and review. Please be assured that my opinions are honest.