We Need New Names by NoViolet Bulawayo
My rating: 2 of 5 stars
Darling along with her family and friends live in an area of Zimbabwe called Paradise. The name is more of a cruel metaphor than their reality. Darling and her friends biggest battle is hunger. Their excursions in search of food always end up being grand adventures. Darling is ten. Her friends aren't much older. There is no school for them to attend in Paradise.
Bulawayo throws a wide net in We Need New Names . There is a country hoping for change. Families affected by AIDS and poverty. Paradise has an influx of "goodwill" that only generates more hopelessness. The Chinese are present like in most of Africa. Of course, the juxtaposition of escaping life in Africa to live in the United States looms large. Darling leaves Paradise only to find out the streets aren't paved with gold in the United States.
The characters are named like those from a Toni Morrison novel: Bastard, GodKnows, Messenger, Prophet Revelations...etc. These characters possessed a certain innocence that kept me reading but it also felt like the author was trying too hard and never made a point of anything. I'm still lost. The ending was so vague until it was pointless. There was no heartbeat, just names.
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