“A girl walked alone on the darkened street.” Immediately as this novel begins the reader senses the fragility of this unprotected child. Not only is she alone in the dark, but she is physically disabled, “Her gait was steady, but her steps were irregular, for one of her legs was shorter than the other” and visually impaired, “(she)stared at Auntie’s apartment through the thick lenses of her eyeglasses.” And then she is lured, purposefully we later learn, by a tall thin man with an agenda weighted with superstition, revenge and betrayal. The child’s name is Kuyeyu.
From this beginning Corban Addis crafts a novel that one doesn’t have to dig more than a few pages into before realizing that “betrayal” is at the heart of all the characters, from Zoe Fleming, the Expat human rights attorney who is estranged from her father, Kuyeyu, a child with Downs Syndrome, who is violated by an entitled elitist, to Charity(Bella), Kuyeyu’s mother, whose promising life ends up in prostitution due to the double-dealing of others, and who dies of AIDS. Actually the pattern of betrayal extends deep into the psyche even the violator and his powerful parents.
Zoe lives in a gated apartment complex with guards and a brick wall around it. But she truly cares about Kuyeyu to the point that with the help of Kuyeyu’s mother’s journal with letters addressed “Dear Jan” she seeks to understand how Charity moved a promising career in nursing to the streets of Lusaka. Working with a Zambian Police Investigator and the team of Zambian Human Rights attorneys she works with, the guilty party is soon identified, but between getting DNA testing approved (a legal matter and an availability of the service, nearest DNA lab, Johannesburg, SA) the sample taken on the night of the rape disappears from the hospital.
The impression the novel often gives is that “MONEY” specifically from the USA would save the world, especially in this book, Kuyeyu and by extension Zambia. As a Christian, I know that money cannot SAVE the World, but I also know that without money many more would die without Jesus. I found myself routing for Zoe and Joseph as they worked for the benefit of this child. I followed them to some of the most beautiful places in the world, Victoria Falls and Cape Town, SA. These are places I may never see, but Corban Addis brought them alive to my mind’s eye. I found myself drawn into Charity’s journey as the betrayals piled up…and realized that this well written, secular humanistic novel awakened in me a need to weep for everything on these pages are things that break the heart of God. But there were also pages that deepened my love for Africa, for my missionary friends in Kenya, East Africa and the work they do to minister to children who are orphaned many by AIDS.
The book strengthened by belief that the work of Christ comes in many forms and if Christians don’t support ministries to the disenfranchised, GOD will work through those who do, but without the Word of Christ results will be temporal rather than eternal. Pray for the lost and those that serve them, Support CHRISTIAN ministries that feed, clothe, provide health care and educate the children of the world, and Weep for those things that break the heart of God. If I do not, then someone will and the results could be detrimental to us all.