The Door of No Return: Book summary and reviews of The Door of No Return by Kwame Alexander

The Door of No Return

by Kwame Alexander

The Door of No Return by Kwame Alexander X
The Door of No Return by Kwame Alexander
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Book Summary

11-year-old Kofi Offin dreams of water. Its mysterious, immersive quality. The rich, earthy scent of the current. The clearness, its urgent whisper that beckons with promises and secrets…

Dreams are today's answers for tomorrow's questions.

Kofi has heard the call on the banks of Upper Kwanta, in the village where he lives. He loves these things above all else: his family, the fireside tales of his father's father, a girl named Ama, and, of course, swimming. Some say he moves like a minnow, not just an ordinary boy so he's hoping to finally prove himself in front of Ama and his friends in a swimming contest against his older, stronger cousin.

But before this can take place, a festival comes to the villages of Upper and Lower Kwanta and Kofi's brother is chosen to represent Upper Kwanta in the wrestling contest. Encircled by cheering spectators and sounding drums, the two wrestlers from different villages kneel, ready to fight.

You are only fine, until you are not.

The match is over before it has barely begun, when the unthinkable – a sudden death – occurs…

The river does not care how grown you are.

As his world turns upside down, Kofi soon ends up in a fight for his life. What happens next will send him on a harrowing journey across land and sea, and away from everything he loves.

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Reviews

Media Reviews

"Newbery Medalist Alexander's gripping historical novel in verse, a trilogy opener rooted in the Asante Kingdom in 1860, centers 11-year-old Kofi Offin...Interweaving moments of joyful exuberance and heartbreaking sadness via sensate lines by turns sweet and stinging, Alexander's sweeping novel conjures a captivating, resonant world of African tradition, life, and ancestral wisdom." - Publishers Weekly (starred review)

"The immediacy of this verse novel places readers alongside Kofi, thriving as a young boy surrounded by family love and legacy before being abruptly snatched from all he has known. Alexander's rich language is lyrical and haunting as the water, long a source of comfort for Kofi, becomes full of uncertainty and danger. A riveting, not-to-be-missed trilogy opener that will leave readers invested in what is to come." - Kirkus Reviews (starred review)

"Told in Alexander's lyrical and masterly style, this gritty and compelling novel of Kofi's life should be included in all library collections that serve young readers." - Library Journal (starred review)

"Absolutely spellbinding: Kwame Alexander weaves together storytelling, poetry, music and history like no one else can. An unforgettable journey to be treasured and shared across generations." - Rick Riordan, New York Times bestselling author of the Percy Jackson series

"Kwame Alexander's story, The Door of No Return, humanizes the experience of the people who knew the flavors of freedom long before they knew the sting of slavery. Alexander lures you in and endears you to Kofi and his world in a way that has you fully invested in time and place. Alexander seems to trust the heaviness of history to hold its own, and so he is able to tell a story with such a lightness of foot which only further emphasizes that weight of history that is undeniable and irrevocable. His writing is at once vivid and simple, lyrical and surgical, expressive and exacting, comforting and cutting. It hypnotizes and sobers, hypnotizes and sobers, in a rhythm as timeless as the talking drum that carries the tales of his people: Kum-PUM PUM! Kum-PUM PUM! I wish this book existed alongside Huckleberry Finn when I was in school. I am glad it exists now!" - Lupita Nyong'o, actress and author

"Alexander turns the nightmare of the past into an epic story for all times and all people. The Door of No Return is a breathtaking, heartbreaking triumph and an instant classic." - Lev Grossman, New York Times bestselling author of The Magicians

This information about The Door of No Return was first featured in "The BookBrowse Review" - BookBrowse's membership magazine, and in our weekly "Publishing This Week" newsletter. Publication information is for the USA, and (unless stated otherwise) represents the first print edition. The reviews are necessarily limited to those that were available to us ahead of publication. If you are the publisher or author and feel that they do not properly reflect the range of media opinion now available, send us a message with the mainstream reviews that you would like to see added.

Any "Author Information" displayed below reflects the author's biography at the time this particular book was published.

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Author Information

Kwame Alexander

Kwame Alexander is a poet, educator, publisher, and New York Times bestselling author of 35 books, including the Caldecott Medal and Newbery Honor-winning picture book The Undefeated, illustrated by Kadir Nelson, the Newbery medal-winning novel, The Crossover, Becoming Muhammad Ali, co-authored with James Patterson, Booked, which was longlisted for the National Book Award, Rebound, Solo and Swing. A regular contributor to NPR's Morning Edition, Kwame is also the recipient of numerous other awards, including the Lee Bennett Hopkins Poetry Award, the Coretta Scott King Author Honor, three NAACP Image Award Nominations, and the 2017 Inaugural Pat Conroy Legacy Award. In 2018, he founded the publishing imprint Versify, and opened the Barbara E. Alexander Memorial Library and Health Clinic in Ghana, as a part of LEAP for Ghana, an international literacy program he co-founded. He is the writer and executive producer of the forthcoming Crossover TV series on Disney plus.

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