I Still Miss Him by Walije Gondwe

a nutshell: recalling her childhood in 1950s Malawi, the narrator – Kamu – tells the story of her fraught teen romance with a European boy named Charlie

a line: “Unfortunately, love, amour, kutemwa, kupenda – call it what you will – is not that rational”

an image: it has been some time since I read such a quintessentially teenage moment as when Kamu finds herself pondering whether ‘that boy’ had a PhD in being handsome

a thought: this short novel is not all just fleeting lust and angst-ridden teen dramas, it also delves into the racialised society in which Kamu grows up – the young girl’s ongoing struggle with the taboo of associating with white Europeans is made very clear from the earliest pages

a fact: born in 1936, Gondwe was the first Malawian woman novelist to have her work published – in 1999 she founded a charity, Vinjeru Education, to provide educational resources to schools in Malawi’s remote regions

want to read I Still Miss Him? visit here

Tentative by Anna Leader

cat and ebook

a nutshell: set in Paris but sprawling across Central Europe, this teen fiction (written by a Luxembourger teenager) follows a young girl whose heart is pulled in different directions

a line: “Or did you develop a tolerance for sadness, like a drug, and need larger and larger doses to produce the same effect?”

an image: there were many reminders of my adolescence in this novel, with some poignant chapters in which the main character immersed herself in books (& berries) to escape teen turmoil

a thought: it was so refreshing to read a book with a happy ending – I hadn’t realised how much I needed to dip into this unrefined yet enjoyable book

a fact: aged 16 when she wrote this, Leader is the youngest author I’ve read so far for this project – this is her first (semi-autobiographical) novel

want to read Tentative? visit here