Book Pairings: She Would be King

She Would Be King by Wateyu Moore is an amazing and touching story of three gifted teens: a girl named Gbessa exiled from her village in Liberia for fear that her red hair and dark skin is evidence of witchcraft; and two young boys who end up in Liberia after escaping slavery in the Americas. Together they set out to protect the indigenous population of Liberia against slave-trader and European settlers. Its set in the 1800s, peppered with magical realism and told in beautiful language.

On the other hand, Dream Country by Shannon Gibney, is the story of a Liberian boy who gets into a bit of trouble in America so he is sent back to his relatives in Liberia. But more than that, it is the story of his ancestors and their fight against slave-traders and former African-American slaves taking up their territory and forcing them into servitude. The language in Dream Country is harsh and real, and the realities portrays can be overwhelmingly sad. But both stories are equally thrilling and mesmerizing. They are two different points of view of the same historical period and stories that will entertain you and educate you at the same time.

I had very little knowledge of the history of Liberia, aside from the re-settling of African Americans and had never thought about the impact it must have had in the local communities. This has open my eyes and allowed me to differentiate the fairy-tale story about freedom for African Americans in Africa that we have been told, from the harsh reality of conflict between settlers and indigenous people. If you loved She Would be King, you will love Dream Country. I encourage you to give it a try.

Author: Carla Hafez

Reader of mostly literary fiction and own-voices fiction. Latina. Feminist. Amateur reviewer. Opinionated. Unapologetically progressive. Mom. Wife. Believer.

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