Review by Booklist Review
Hill, author of the critically acclaimed Someone Knows My Name (2007), here turns to the plight of illegal immigrants in a deeply satisfying story shot through with humor and humanity. Keita Ali, a gifted runner, is forced to leave his home country when his father, a famed journalist, is killed by their repressive government. Keita knows that his life is also in danger and signs up with a ruthless sports agent, who sends him to the neighboring, wealthy Freedom State to compete in marathons. But then Keita learns that his sister has been arrested and will only be released for $15,000, and he knows what he must do: earn as much prize money as he can to save his sister's life. Hill threads his story with compelling details on the athleticism of elite runners while also laying out the desperation of illegal immigrants, who are constantly scrounging for food and money while living in fear of being deported. Secondary characters, including a feisty, disabled reporter; an accomplished black policewoman; and a white philanthropist, round out the cast in a timely and affecting story.--Wilkinson, Joanne Copyright 2015 Booklist
From Booklist, Copyright (c) American Library Association. Used with permission.
Review by Publisher's Weekly Review
This taut political thriller from Hill (The Book of Negroes) focuses on undocumented immigrants, and how they struggle to survive in hostile nations. Keita Ali lives in the fictional island continent of Zantorland, located between Africa and Australia and best known for producing world-class marathon runners. His older sister, Charity, and well-respected journalist father, Yoyo, encourage Keita's training as a gifted marathoner, but then Yoyo is arrested for his supposedly incendiary writings. Charity later escapes to study at Harvard, and Keita excels at racing. After the government thugs kill the dissident Yoyo, Keita flees to Clarkson, the capital of the nearby (and also fictional) island continent called Freedom State. He befriends Viola Hill, a paraplegic reporter covering the civil unrest in AfricTown, a chaotic ghetto where the glut of unwanted refugees like Keita stay. He continues running to win the prize money in marathon competitions, especially after Charity is lured back to Zantorland, kidnapped, and held for ransom. The descriptive passages of Keita's runs offer ample excitement, while the colorful minor characters such as Lula DiStefano, "the unofficial queen of AfricTown," and Ivernia Beech, Keita's elderly but feisty landlady, add refreshing story elements. Hill's intricate, propulsive plot includes corruption, murder, and mayhem, and readers will be rushing to its fulfilling resolution. (Jan.) © Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
(c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved
Review by Library Journal Review
Hill, the Canadian-born Commonwealth Award-winning author of The Book of Negroes (in the United States, Someone Knows My Name), has outdone himself with his latest novel. Marathon runner Keita Ali is forced to leave his country, Zantoroland, following his father's assassination. He flees to the ironically named Freedom State, where he becomes another undocumented alien subject to racism and exploitation. When his sister, a Harvard graduate, is held for ransom, he must turn his dreams of becoming a champion runner into reality so that he can earn the money to secure her freedom. Although these nations are fictional, Hill draws on real issues in Africa, from which people have fled in fear of their lives, and worldwide, as nations struggle with a flood of refugees. Certainly, his characters are authentic, and each is indispensable; readers know the "blagaybulled"-black, gay, disabled-journalist Viola; the mixed-up yet intelligent John, who is determined to "be" black; and the desperate Yvette Peters. VERDICT With a captivating structure that allows the story to converge flawlessly and a rich, imaginative history like that in James McBride's Song Yet Sung, this work will appeal to readers of literary and African literature. [See Prepub Alert, 8/3/15.]-Ashanti White, Yelm, WA © Copyright 2015. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
(c) Copyright Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.