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Young adult book reviews for ages 12 and up - middle school and high school students

*Kiffe Kiffe Tomorrow* by Faiza Guene - young adult book review


Kiffe Kiffe Tomorrow
by Faiza Guene
Young adult 192 pages Harvest Books July 2006 Paperback    

This unusual coming-of-age novel is set in France – not in the elegant streets of Paris but in the dank and crumbling projects, Paradise Estates, where fifteen-year-old Doria lives with her mother. Mother and daughter face ,i>mektoub (destiny) together after her father returns to Morocco to remarry and have children with a woman who can give him sons.

With few resources and no fluency in English, Doria’s mother works in a local hotel but loses her job after a strike, left to rely on the system for a monthly pittance and shopping for Doria’s clothes in a local thrift store. Forced to see a counselor because of her age and inability to adjust to the terrible circumstances of everyday life, Doria spends the allotted time telling tall tales, waiting to be released from the obligation.

Her street friends enlarge the girl’s perspective on the world, guiding her through the pitfalls of the streets and watching out for her. Still, Doria blames her father’s desertion for most of their problems: “there are only two guilty parties in this story: my dad and fate.”

Understandably bitter, Doria nevertheless has a practical nature and adapts to the circumstances of their limited means, pursing her own interests, avidly watching the neighborhood goings-on, reporting everything with a wry humor that is delightful. Clearly, it is her personality that allows this young woman to overcome the most daunting hurdles with equanimity.

Never afraid to say what she thinks, Doria is impressive, her observations spot on and accurate, especially her descriptions of the poverty of the projects, the humble people bent to the grinding hours of survival. With blunt honesty, she is righteously angry over the inequities and shame parceled out with food stamps and cheap housing: “Fate is all trial and misery and you can’t do anything about it.”

Trapped in a cycle of poverty and despair, Doria’s humor is the vehicle of her success. She does not take herself or her life too seriously, especially at a time when her body is changing so subtly, a prelude to the womanhood that hovers right around the corner.

Navigating a childhood that offers little in the way of encouragement, Doria views life exactly as it is, with no frills and no expectations, blunting the pain with a facile sarcasm that keeps her tribulations in perspective.

It is her youth, after all, that saves Doria from the depression of her circumstances, the innate hope that comes with a certain age. By her sixteenth birthday, the last year seems but a dream, this young survivor determined to engage the world and make a better place for herself and her mother. Unflappable, she faces an unknowable future and the promise of romance with a hopeful heart.
Young adult book reviews for ages 12 and up - middle school and high school students

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  Luan Gaines/2006 for curled up with a good kid's book  

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