Lucy lives a suffocating life in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, in Yohalem's debut, which was inspired by true events. With her mother working constantly as a U.S. ambassador and her life in Bethesda, Md., far away, Lucy is lonely and confined to the house because of her somewhat reckless nature. Most of her time is spent at school or with the house servant, an elderly Ethiopian man named Iskinder, who tells her stories of the country's history, traditions and power struggles. More than anything, Lucy wants to explore, free to discover the animals of the African forest and the Simien Mountains ("Africa is the only place I've ever been where human beings feel like just one small part of a vast and complicated earth"). When Lucy is kidnapped and held for ransom, she is finally given the chance to use her strength and wildlife knowledge to survive. Lucy's past and present are gracefully woven together, through well-integrated flashbacks, into a powerful picture of the life of a foreigner in Ethiopia. The story should appeal to all with a sense of adventure. Ages 10-up. (Apr.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved
Teens itching to read about life on another continent will relish Yohalem's exciting debut novel set in Africa. Lucy Hoffman's mom is the U.S. ambassador to Ethiopia, so Lucy lives and attends high school in the capital city of Addis Ababa. Unfortunately, Lucy's overprotective mother won't let her out of the house, which means no game drives or hanging out with her friends at the local ice-cream parlor. Frustrated and resentful, Lucy and a friend sneak out of the house and head into the city. The plot quickens when Lucy is kidnapped and held for ransom. Isolated and without shoes, Lucy plans an escape using her knowledge of the African wilderness. Loosely based on a true story, Yohalem's tale weaves together the beauty of the African wildlife with the harsh realities of a poor and unstable region. Scenes depicting Lucy's resourcefulness are riveting, and the author's descriptions of Ethiopian culture will pique young readers' curiosity about life abroad.--Garnick, Kimberly Copyright 2009 Booklist
Gr 5-8-Chafing at the restrictions of being the American ambassador's daughter, 13-year-old Lucy sneaks out to the market in Addis Ababa, is kidnapped by drug dealers, and escapes into the Ethiopian bush where she faces a pride of lions. Based on a widely circulated news story of a kidnapping and lion rescue, this unusual adventure places a reassuringly typical American teenager in an intriguingly different setting. Bored by endless rounds of official visits and restricted to the American compound when not in her elite private school, Lucy whiles away her time reading books about African wildlife, dreams of her twice-monthly visits to a game park, and schemes ways to avoid her protectors. The first-person narrative includes flashbacks that reveal something of Lucy's life prior to the kidnapping. Caught up in the suspense, readers will probably accept how much Lucy's gymnastics training and naturalist reading contribute to her survival, as well as the coincidence of her ending up at the village home of a classmate. First-time novelist Yohalem researched her story with a visit to Ethiopia and her reportage may leave readers, like Lucy, wanting to know more about that world.-Kathleen Isaacs, Towson University, MD (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.