Excerpt from Threatened by Eliot Schrefer, plus links to reviews, author biography & more

Summary |  Excerpt |  Reviews |  Beyond the Book |  Readalikes |  Genres & Themes |  Author Bio


by Eliot Schrefer

  • Critics' Opinion:

    Readers' Opinion:

  • First Published:
    Feb 2014, 288 pages
    Aug 2015, 288 pages

  • Rate this book

Book Reviewed by:
Tamara Smith

Buy This Book

About this Book

Print Excerpt

On a shelf above my bench was a plastic basin that contained my few possessions. I reached up and took it down, taking advantage of the lamplight to examine the worn-rough ridge of the plastic, the frayed rope handles. I imagined my mom's and my sister's fingers on them.

Most of the boys paid their keep by hunting rodents and mon-keys out of the bush that Monsieur Tatagani could sell to the market vendors. When they had a good day we'd eat the extra meat, but usually Monsieur Tatagani boiled up rice, shallow wooden bowlfuls for which he'd add a few francs to our debt. Whoever returned last got the sludge at the bottom, a cooked-down rice water that was gray and foamy. It looked like what you'd get if you milked a monster, but it was plentiful and filled the belly. I took a plastic bag from a hook on the wall and held the snipped-off tip to my lips. Some of the cooled dregs dribbled into my mouth, and I swallowed them and then some more.

Back when my mother had been alive, dinner had been fruit and a heavy slice of manioc bread, eaten at a sloping wooden table overlooking our field. My father was a road builder and almost always far away, laying pavement. There was never a lot to eat, but there was always enough, because when none of our crops were ready we'd find a neighbor who'd harvested. Other times we'd return the favor, so there was usually company at our table. When my mother got sick and my sister stopped growing, we had to move to Franceville for its hospital. I was too young to work, so I'd beg meals from the few family members we had here. But they were my father's family, and it had been years since he'd last been seen. Once they gave up on him, they gave up on me, and my meals became bar scraps and the milk of the monster.

I didn't usually allow myself to stew on the time when my parents had been around, but that night had been so strange — between Prof and the metal briefcase and the calls I thought I'd heard from the mock men — that I was cracked open. As I lay on the bench, I wished that my mother could place a blanket over me, like she'd once done. But she was gone. Even the blanket was gone. So instead I lay my arm across Pierre, blanketing him.

What I needed most was to get some sleep. But all I could think about was the metal briefcase and what it would look like placed alongside the rest of my possessions inside the plastic basin. Its four corners would just nest inside. Once that basin had held my sister, until she'd stopped growing and shrunk to nothing instead. Tomorrow it would hold this different treasure. Making soft tuck-tuck sounds, I turned the basin in a slow circle, the way I'd once done to coax Carine into sleep. I stopped only when Pierre fidgeted.

I allowed myself to dream. In my new life I could use whatever the case held to buy a hut and a plot of land. Once I had that, I could pay Pierre's debt and he could live with me. Or maybe my father, once he heard I was set up somewhere, would finally return. I could have a family.


Usually I was woken by the clatter of Monsieur Tatagani rummag-ing through the kitchen pans, grumbling about his hangover. But today I woke to silence, which was worse.

I drew in my legs and sat up as quietly as I could. I was sore all along my back, my tight muscles pulling me into a curve. As I sat up my head hit the shelf, and without thinking I shushed, hoping my sister wouldn't make noise.

I must have forced Pierre off the bench during the night — he was now lying on his usual spot on the floor. I crept over to the housedress and peered around it.

A creature was in the doorway — a monkey with a silver body and a black face. Hand against the mud wall, he was peering in, the dingy dress-curtain piled on his head.

Excerpted from Threatened by Eliot Schrefer. Copyright © 2014 by Eliot Schrefer. Excerpted by permission of Scholastic. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.

Membership Advantages
  • Reviews
  • "Beyond the Book" backstories
  • Free books to read and review (US only)
  • Find books by time period, setting & theme
  • Read-alike suggestions by book and author
  • Book club discussions
  • and much more!
  • Just $10 for 3 months or $35 for a year
  • More about membership!

Support BookBrowse

Become a Member
and discover your next great read!

Join Today!

Editor's Choice

  • Book Jacket: Crossing the Horizon
    Crossing the Horizon
    by Laurie Notaro
    In Crossing the Horizon, Laurie Notaro takes us back to a time when flying was a rare and risky ...
  • Book Jacket
    Auntie Poldi and the Sicilian Lions
    by Mario Giordano
    Munich matron and self-described worldly sophisticate, Isolde Oberreiter, has decided to retire to a...
  • Book Jacket: Of Arms and Artists
    Of Arms and Artists
    by Paul Staiti
    In the late eighteenth-century, the United States of America was still an emerging country, ...
Book Discussions
Book Jacket
The Bone Tree
by Greg Iles

An epic trilogy of blood and race, family and justice.

About the book
Join the discussion!

First Impressions

  • Book Jacket

    The Next
    by Stephanie Gangi

    Fast-paced, wickedly observant, and haunting in the best sense of the word.

    Read Member Reviews

Win this book!
Win The World of Poldark

Win the book & DVD

Enter to win The World of Poldark and the full first series on DVD.


Word Play

Solve this clue:

One S D N M A S

and be entered to win..

Books that     

 & enlighten

Visitors can view some of BookBrowse for free. Full access is for members only.

Join Today!

Your guide toexceptional          books

BookBrowse seeks out and recommends books that we believe to be best in class. Books that will whisk you to faraway places and times, that will expand your mind and challenge you -- the kinds of books you just can't wait to tell your friends about.


Free Weekly Newsletter

Keep up with what's happening in the world of books:
Reviews, previews, interviews and more!

Spam Free: Your email is never shared with anyone; opt out any time.