2021 National Indie Excellence Awards Winner for Young Adult Fiction!
2021 Indies Book of the Year Awards Finalist for Young Adult Fiction!
2021 Best Book Awards Finalist for Young Adult Fiction!
“We are most courageous at our weakest; when we believe we have faced what we fear the most and have nothing more to lose.”
Set against the backdrop of two warring towns, Oby Aligwekwe’s Young Adult debut—told from the viewpoint of her main character—is inspired by her West African heritage, fables, and spiritual beliefs. Ona’s journey reveals the power of choice, the true source of happiness, and, most importantly, the transformation one must go through to realize and eventually occupy their purpose.
At the sudden death of her grandfather, Ona’s pain transports her to mystical Luenah—a place of infinite possibilities, free of turf wars and other ills that plague the earthly dimension she lives in. In Luenah, where her grandfather awaits her, Ona learns she is an Eri, one bestowed with unique intuitive and spiritual gifts passed down from generation-to-generation.
On her 18th birthday, she returns to Luenah and is handed a box to deposit her "exchange" for love and happiness—her greatest desires. Burdened by her quest, Ona crosses paths with danger and heartbreak as the two men that love her dearly are viciously pitted against each other. As evil looms, she learns that dreams carry a hefty price, and no one is who they seem. Now, she must unmask the villain and save the one she loves, even at the risk of losing everything she holds dear.
“Young adults and older readers will be enchanted by this fantasy's magic, romance, and life lessons.” (Booklife by Publishers Weekly)
This seemed to me more like a fairy tale than any fantasy. That didn’t make it a bad read by any means.
While it may be set in the ancient times of a fantasy world, it is still a sweet story of a boy from the wrong side of the tracks falling in love with the girl from a wealthy family. Ona loses her dearly loved grandfather and goes into a trance upon being told. Her grandfather appears to her, and she finds she is in a magical world called Luenah. This magical world that she can sometimes access helps her get through some very bad times in her life in the real world.
This is a really nice book for young adults. It does involve some domestic violence. I don’t think the violence is as brutally vivid as it is implied. I also don’t think there is any young adult that shouldn’t be aware such things can happen and that it can be stopped.
In summary, a nice read. Well-written and enjoyable.
Read an Excerpt
ONE MONTH AFTER my eleventh birthday, the desiccating north-east harmattan winds blew a flurry of red dust and some dirt as I walked into my grandfather’s compound. I sprinted in the opposite direction as I feared the tornado would carry me away to some unknown land where I could never see my grandparents again. It subsided as quickly as it had started, but it left behind particles of dust and dirt, making it hard for me to see. I managed to observe the blockage caused by cars parked haphazardly on the road facing the compound and extending into our driveway. It then made sense why my school bus driver had asked me to alight a block from my home. I was not happy about the fact that I had to walk. The dust had turned my white stockings a reddish-brown, which meant I wouldn’t receive my usual compliments from my grandfather, who often marveled at how my clothes always remained so clean even after a full day at school. Every day, I removed my stockings during the break period and put them back on after I had played with my friends—that’s how important their cleanliness, and my grandfather’s praise, was to me.
I got closer to the gate and discovered there were more important things to contend with than my stockings. A throng of visitors was inside the compound, some seated on benches, others leaning on their cars, and several more whispering in little circles. No one had noticed when I walked in. I felt invisible and remained so as I crept by the men and women that blocked the entrance to the staircase and every single stair, all the way to the landing.
I pushed and shoved countless times until I finally made it past the hallway that led to my grandmother’s private parlor. Stopping for a moment to catch my breath, I started to hear crying; something had gone seriously wrong.
About the Author:Oby Aligwekwe is the award-winning author of Nfudu, Hazel House, and The Place Beyond Her Dreams—her third novel and Young Adult debut. In 2021, The Place Beyond Her Dreams won the National Indie Excellence Awards in the Young Adult Fiction Category.
When Oby is not working on her day job or whipping up stories, she enjoys traveling to exotic locations and bringing pieces of her travel with her. She lives in Oakville, Ontario, with her family and supports her community through her charity Éclat Beginnings.
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