Children's books and book reviews - reading resource for kids, teachers, librarians, parents

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    

In Kiffe Kiffe Tomorrow, nineteen-year-old author Faiza Guene introduces us to Doria, a Moroccan girl living with her mother in the projects near Paris, France. Her father ran out on them and back to their hometown in Morocco six months ago. Now Doria and her mother, Yasmina, who works as a maid in a hotel, are on their own, with a little help sent by the city and Doria's school.

That help includes show-off social worker Madame DuSomething (a name that lets people know she comes from people of high standing) and the psychiatrist, Madame Burlaud, who is old and ugly and smells like anti lice shampoo, according to Doria. Doria and her mother have friends, too. Hammoudi, a thug living in their apartment building, and Auntie Zorah, an Algerian immigrant, are just a few of the colorful cast of characters in this novel.

The phrase "kiffe kiffe tomorrow" is one of Doria's own invention, coming from the Arabic kif-kif, which means same old, same old, and the French verb kiffer, which means to really like something. At first, Doria's life is kif-kif tomorrow. Same old bad stuff tomorrow, same as every day. Same stuff to deal with: paying the rent on time, failing school, and the stuff every teenager deals with, like guys or embarrassment. Doria is a lot like every other teenage girl, but at the same time, she's much different. She's strong and she deals with everything as it comes along, no matter how hard it is.

The Paris that Doria inhabits is not the Paris of the movies, the Paris that Yasmina was expecting when she stepped off the boat and set foot in France all those years ago. It's not the same Paris that is just a few metro stops away. This Paris is full of people caught between two countries and, really, two entirely different worlds. In this novel, told in Doria's fresh, funny, original voice, the projects outside of Paris aren't just full of rap, soccer, and crime. She turns all the stereotypes about immigrants held by people like her mother's boss, Mr. Winner (who calls all the Arabs, like her mother, "Fatma"), upside down and shows them how wrong they are.

This is Faiza Guene's first book, and I'm hoping it won't be her last. She is only nineteen; it's admirable that she could finish writing a book at all. Many people, much older, couldn't do it even if they wanted to. The translation from French (Kiffe Kiffe Demain is the French title) is also brilliant. Although I haven't read the French text, it does not seem that Sarah Adams' translation is missing any of the brilliant wit or originality that was expected from reading reviews. Sometimes, a reader can tell he or she is missing something in a translation, the spark that made the book in its original language so popular. If this book is one of those, then the French version must have been unbelievably brilliant.

Kiffe Kiffe Tomorrow is a great insider's look not only at the public housing projects outside of Paris, but at the life of a teenage girl not so different from one anywhere else in the world. This book is especially great for anyone who has ever felt they aren't the same as everyone around them - anyone who has been, so to speak, on the outside looking in.

This novel had me daydreaming a little at first, but I was certainly absorbed once I got into it. Faiza Guene pulls you into her story. When you emerge, you'll find yourself missing Doria's fresh take on things. Doria is an amazing character, possibly a little like Faiza Guene herself, who also grew up in the projects outside of Paris. She has a brilliant imagination, and the story she has to tell is both funny and sad, lighthearted and serious. Her voice is cynical and hopeful at the same time, something that is difficult to achieve in writing.

This highly original story, told in an equally original voice, will be popular for as long as people read it. And read it they will, even if it's only because they'll be pulled in by the amazing cover art. It's sure to be a favorite with readers everywhere in France, the U.S., or anywhere else in the world, in rich suburbs, in the middle of cities, out in the country, or in the projects like Doria.
Young adult book reviews for ages 12 and up - middle school and high school students

click here to browse children's board book reviews
click here to browse children's picture book reviews
click here to browse young readers book reviews
click here to browse young readers book reviews
click here to browse young adult book reviews
click here to browse parenting book reviews
web reviews
  Jocelyn Pearce/2006 for curled up with a good kid's book  

For grown-up fiction, nonfiction and speculative fiction book reviews,
visit our sister site Curled Up With a Good Book (