Praise Song for the Butterflies by Bernice L. McFadden
Longlisted for the Women's Prize for Fiction 2019
A powerful, well-researched, fictional account exploring the trokosi tradition for the curious and the open-minded.
Abeo Kata lives a comfortable, happy life in West Africa as the privileged nine-year-old daughter of a government employee and stay-at-home mother. But when the Katas' idyllic lifestyle takes a turn for the worse, Abeo's father, following his mother's advice, places the girl in a religious shrine, hoping that the sacrifice of his daughter will serve as atonement for the crimes of his ancestors. Unspeakable acts befall Abeo for the fifteen years she is enslaved within the shrine. When she is finally rescued, broken and battered, she must struggle to overcome her past, endure the revelation of family secrets, and learn to trust and love again.
In the tradition of Chris Cleave’s Little Bee, Praise Song for the Butterflies is a contemporary story that offers an educational, eye-opening account of the practice of ritual servitude in West Africa. Spanning decades and two continents, Praise Song for the Butterflies is an unflinching tale of the devastation that children are subject to when adults are ruled by fear and someone must pay the consequences.
“Abeo is unrelenting—a fiery protagonist who sparks in every scene. Bernice L. McFadden has created yet another compelling story, this time about hope and freedom.”—Nicole Dennis-Benn, author of Here Comes the Sun
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