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Praise Song for the Butterflies by Bernice…
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Praise Song for the Butterflies

by Bernice L. McFadden

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Showing 1-5 of 23 (next | show all)
This review was written for LibraryThing Early Reviewers.
Bernice McFadden has taken the practice of "trokosi", also called "ritual servitude", practiced in some African countries to this day, and wove a story around it. Abeo is a 9 year old girl, happy in her home with her parents and younger brother. When her paternal grandmother moves into their home, and then her father looses his job, Abeo's life abruptly changes. Her father, at his mother's urging, takes Abeo far from her home and leaves her at a religious shrine, where she joins other girls whose parents have abandoned them there in the hope of appeasing their gods and bringing good fortune to their families. Abeo does not understand what is happening to her, or why. She lives in a hut with several other girls, has only rags to wear, and never enough food. The children are worked long hard hours in the fields, beaten and, as they reach puberty, raped by the priest. Abeo lives in this torture for over 10 years. How she is rescued, and what her life becomes afterwards, made this a story of redemption.
I applaud this author for bringing this practice to the attention of many more people, using the power of her writing. I also want to thank LibraryThing, Bernice L. McFadden, and Akashic Books for the copy of the book I received.

Reading Progress
September 8, 2018 – Started Reading
September 8, 2018 – Shelved
September 8, 2018 – Shelved as: librarything-first-reviewers
September 15, 2018 – Finished Reading
November 10, 2018 – Shelved as: 2018-reads
November 10, 2018 – Shelved as: africa
November 10, 2018 – Shelved as: current-world

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Copy/paste the text below into your blog. Praise Song for the Butterflies by Bernice L. McFadden

My rating: 4 of 5 stars


Bernice McFadden has taken the practice of "trokosi", also called "ritual servitude", practiced in some African countries to this day, and wove a story around it. Abeo is a 9 year old girl, happy in her home with her parents and younger brother. When her paternal grandmother moves into their home, and then her father looses his job, Abeo's life abruptly changes. Her father, at his mother's urging, takes Abeo far from her home and leaves her at a religious shrine, where she joins other girls whose parents have abandoned them there in the hope of appeasing their gods and bringing good fortune to their families. Abeo does not understand what is happening to her, or why. She lives in a hut with several other girls, has only rags to wear, and never enough food. The children are worked long hard hours in the fields, beaten and, as they reach puberty, raped by the priest. Abeo lives in this torture for over 10 years. How she is rescued, and what her life becomes afterwards, made this a story of redemption.
I applaud this author for bringing this practice to the attention of many more people, using the power of her writing. I also want to thank LibraryThing, Bernice L. McFadden, and Akashic Books for the copy of the book I received. ( )
  jhoaglin | Nov 10, 2018 |
This review was written for LibraryThing Early Reviewers.
This novel is a powerful and well written story about a harrowing topic. This is the first book I've read by this author & it's made me an instant fan of Bernice McFadden. Each of her sentences are beautifully constructed & carry a lot of weight. So much is said in so few words. The plot is so compelling that I read the book in one sitting; I just couldn't put it down. It's well structured & told from the point of view of multiple characters giving it depth & providing the reader with insights of the choices made by the characters. This is an unforgettable novel that I'll be recommending to others for years to come.

Thank you to the publisher & LibraryThing for providing an advanced reader copy to read/review. ( )
  PiperUp | Oct 26, 2018 |
This review was written for LibraryThing Early Reviewers.
“Scars are proof of survival, they shouldn’t be hidden—it’s a story someone may need to see in order to believe that beyond their pain and suffering, there is healing.”

“It was 1985; Abeo was nine years, seven months, and three days old.”

It is the mid-80s, in West Africa and we are introduced to Abeo Kata, living a privileged life in the suburbs. Her father has a good job in the government but when he is suddenly suspended, as the political climate in his country begins to shift, the family's comfortable existence begins to crumble. As things begin to hit rock bottom, her father decides to sacrifice Abeo, to a religious shrine (basically a sex slave), to atone for the family's past sins. How this nine year old girl survives the next fifteen years, in horrifying conditions, is the rest of this powerful novel. The writing is beautiful, despite the disturbing subject matter. I will have to check out this talented author's backlist. ( )
  msf59 | Oct 21, 2018 |
This review was written for LibraryThing Early Reviewers.
Filled with heartache, yet ending on a high note, beautifully written and compelling to the point that I didn't want to put it down, this is a wonderful book.

Nine-year-old Abeo lives in her wealthy family's compound in Africa. When Abeo's grandfather dies, her mother and father move her grandmother into the home with them. When her baby brother falls ill, and her father is accused of embezzlement and is suspended from his job, rendering them without enough income to maintain their lifestyle, Abeo's father believes his family has fallen under a curse.

Although Abeo's family is Catholic, her grandmother is not, and believes that the only way to release the curse is to sacrifice the first-born child - Abeo. At first Abeo's father resists this idea, but after further setbacks, he agrees and steals away in the middle of the night to deposit Abeo into servitude at one of the many local shrines where young girls harvest corn by day and are sex slaves by night.

The story tells the horror that Abeo and the other girls in her hut suffer without being gaudy or sleazy. The reader is disgusted and offended by the acts committed against these young girls, rather than by what could have been much more blatant descriptions. The gift this author has by keeping tactful throughout this heart-wrenching tale rises above other sordid pieces of writing, and reinforces the serious nature of what is happening to these girls.

After many years of servitude, many years of suffering, Abeo is rescued and tries to assimilate back into real life. It is not easy, and her suffering is far from finished. But there is always hope.

I won a copy of this book from LibraryThing. ( )
  mandersj73 | Sep 29, 2018 |
This review was written for LibraryThing Early Reviewers.
A fictional account of the fetish shrines that were legally in existence in West Africa until 1998. These shrines forced female children into ritual servitude after they were left there by their families in hopes of appeasing the gods for the misdeeds of their ancestors. Innocent girls were considered slaves and abused in every way imaginable while lining the priest's pockets and satisfying their dangerous sexual appetites.

McFadden’s narrative is sparse; she does not use lengthy descriptions, nor is she poetic. I am not a fan of this writing style, but she handles it with skill and builds a powerful revealing story that is, ironically, visual. While excelling here, she falls short by employing a questionable literary contrivance to open and close her work, one that is not consistent with her usual authorial craft. In fact, it is so out of place and character, I am not sure why it was used. She is, however, redeemed by the intervening pages which house a powerful voice with unforgettable imagery worthy of reading.

As we try to bring the world and the way women are treated and portrayed into the 21st Century, this is an important story that will someday remind us of where we came from and not where we are today. ( )
  BALE | Sep 20, 2018 |
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