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Literature / A Girl Named Disaster

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A 1996 Newbery Honor novel by Nancy Farmer. While fleeing from Mozambique to Zimbabwe to escape an unwanted marriage, Nhamo, an eleven-year-old Shona girl, struggles to escape drowning and starvation and in so doing comes close to the luminous world of the African spirits.

A Girl Named Disaster contains examples of:

  • The '80s: The story begins in 1980, and recent historical events such as the Rhodesian Bush War and the presence of soldiers from the Mozambique Liberation Front influence the plot.
  • The Aloner: Nhamo goes through this during her months on the island.
  • Bring My Brown Pants: The first time she sees a landmine go off, Nhamo wets herself in fear.
  • Innocent Inaccurate: On her first night in Zimbabwe, Nhamo watches a white couple and their children being waited on by a black servant. She assumes the woman is the husband's junior wife, and doesn't understand how he could then be racist against black people.
  • Parental Substitute: A variation — Dr. Masuku makes it very clear she doesn't want to be a mother to Nhamo, but she does offer to let Nhamo call her 'Aunt' and teach her the things a paternal aunt would be responsible for in their culture.
  • The Unfavorite: Nhamo's aunt and uncle treat her as a burden, give her all the hardest chores, and are more than willing to marry her off to an abusive older man as payment for her father's crimes. It's also implied that Aunt Chipo was herself the Unfavorite of Ambuya's daughters.