Monday, January 26, 2009

Recently Read:
The Door of No Return by Sara Mussi

The Door of No Return is a fast-paced, fast-talking mystery/thriller based on a really interesting premise. What if, over 200 years ago, the British government had signed a no-slavery treaty with an African prince, and then reneged on the deal? Would the Crown be liable for "breach of contract?" How far would they go to keep the double-cross secret?

This is the danger newly orphaned sixteen-year-old Zac Baxter finds himself in. His beloved grandfather has been obsessed with the idea that their family is descended from an African prince and the rightful owners of a massive hidden treasure. Now Pops has just been murdered in the street, muttering something about a map. Zac is placed with a fabulous, loving white foster family, then inexplicably moved to a group home miles away. Social workers, police, school, all seem to work against him, and there are only two people he can trust -- Raphael, the attorney son of his Pops' old crony Fidelio, and Ashley, a new mate from the group home. And one of them is destined to betray him.

Sentenced to community volunteer service in Ghana, Zac vows to solve the mystery of his ancestors and the dirty secrets hidden in Cape Coast Castle, where thousands of Africans went through the Door of No Return, over the seas into slavery in the Americas.

This is an an enjoyable read, and I love the idea. Cape Coast Castle is a real place, a huge fortress on a cliff that was the African headquarters of the British slave trade for over 150 years, and now a UNESCO World Heritage site. Zac is a hip British teen, courageous and connected to others, and continually making wisecracks to us, his reading audience. I love the character of Ashley, who is smart, goofy and loyal, and manages to find a rhyme for just about everything ("got your back, Zac," "you're the man, Stan," "Get the truth, Ruth!").

If Zac's story captures your imagination, you can find out about the real Cape Coast Castle and its infamous role in history in another The Door of No Return: The History of Cape Coast Castle and the Atlantic Slave Trade by William St. Clair.

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