Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Book Review: Sweetness in the Belly

Sweetness in the Belly by Camilla Gibb

This is an emotionally charged novel! It involves the Ethiopian Civil War and the struggle to survive as a refugee, separated from everything and everyone you've ever known. The voice of Lilly is so real, so authentic, so rich in ethnic detail that one is immediately drawn into this imagined story of a woman displaced in two worlds.

The daughter of English/Irish parents who spend much of their time in a drug induced haze, young Lilly is very much left to herself, free to find amusement on the streets of Morocco. One day she is abandoned by her parents at a Sufi shrine, saying they will return in three days.

That day never comes as they are found slain several weeks later. With no one to shelter her Lily is taken under the wing of an Englishman who has converted to Islam. At the age of eight the child's life begins anew as she will live in the shrine and spend her days in religious study.

At the age of sixteen when many girls are thinking about buying prom. dresses Lilly travels to Ethiopia where she teaches the Qur'an to local children. Once again the color of her skin betrays her, and she is an outsider there. Nonetheless, she falls in love with a young doctor.

Years later the outbreak of war forces her to seek refuge in London where she is again an outsider. Yet, it is her faith that sustains her.

Sweetness in the Belly offers a telling portrait of a far away world that few of us will ever see. Read, cry and enjoy.

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