I’m in the process of helping my sister choose books for my niece’s summer reading list. Yesterday I read an amazing book that kept me enthralled from the first page to the last. Rita Williams-Garcia’s No Laughter Here is an exquisitely written short novel about the weighty issue of Female Genital Mutilation (FGM). The appalling subject matter is handled with delicate, yet honest sensitivity by Ms. Williams-Garcia. She holds no punches about the procedure, nor the consequences of it, yet the writing is not at all gratuitous.
The characters are intelligent, fiercely independent little girls, whose worlds are shaken irrevocably when one of them goes unsuspectingly for a summer visit with relatives in Nigeria and comes back “all cut up and mutilated”. I LOVE the way Akilah, the American from Queens is in immediate solidarity with Victoria, the Nigerian immigrant by way of Britain, when Victoria finally breaks down and tells her why she’s changed…why she’s silent…why there can’t —and shouldn’t— be any laughter. Even at 10, Akilah understands and just viscerally gets it. I’m not ashamed to say that I sobbed during the reading of this book. Yet, I was also able to smile and laugh while reading it as well.
My 13-year old niece might think the book is too young for her because it focuses on two 10-year old girls, Akilah and Victoria, but the book is recommended for fifth through eighth graders, and it’s a perfect range.
This is an amazing book.