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A Girl is A Body of Water

by Jennifer Nansubuga Makumbi

A Girl is A Body of Water by Jennifer Nansubuga Makumbi X
A Girl is A Body of Water by Jennifer Nansubuga Makumbi
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  • First Published:
    Sep 2020, 560 pages
    Jun 15, 2021, 450 pages


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There are currently 19 reader reviews for A Girl is A Body of Water
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Michael Jessica

A Girl is a Body of Water
This book is very intriguing and fascinating. It is about the story of a brave girl who wants to know her mother. It is indeed a tale for all girls.
Shaun D. (Woodridge, IL)

A Challenging but So Worthwhile Read
Maybe it's my choice of books lately but I haven't been anywhere near this challenged by a book, start to finish, in a very long time. My advice is to stick with it because it's hands-down one of The Best books I have ever read. This book challenged me in myriad ways....from the language (which is so beautifully lyrical) to the cultural references to the geography and history of Uganda....all of which forced me to read at a much slower and more careful rate than usual (including many pauses to do a quick bit of on-line research to further my understanding and appreciation of every aspect of this transformative story) which at first frustrated me but ultimately benefited my understanding and appreciation of the book as a whole. Absolutely everything is 180 degrees different from American life and culture. There's such a contradiction between the expectations and demands and treatment of Ugandan women (by the men of course) vs the raw internal strength and impenetrable will of these women when the men aren't around. Everything the men say and do is always and completely excused thanks to that tired tautology 'boys will be boys' so consequently the women are faulted. But yet again even though the men and the culture take what appears to be everything from the women (including losing both their first and last names upon marriage) the women always and beautifully persevere. It's ultimately an incredibly informative, educational and uplifting story that feels so very real. It would make a wonderful miniseries!
Claire M. (Sarasota, FL)

A Girl Is a Body of Water
A fascinating journey into an African culture, specifically Uganda, in which the author uses her gifts of storytelling and language to examine the particulars of a patriarchal and storytelling culture. The ways of speaking which move from Bantu and local dialects to one influenced by the arrival of Europeans delight in the way they represent African language and culture. The impact on Ugandan culture of Christianity challenges and impacts the family and social structures which divides families, portends a future in which culture is changed by the proselyting it can't overcome.
Chris H. (Wauwatosa, WI)

A Girl is a Body of Water
This is a wonderful book about a girl growing up in Uganda. It tells her story as she is raised in a small village by grandparents and others who teach her traditional ways. Her story continues as she begins to becomes school educated and is exposed to life outside a small village. This may be a simple and incomplete review, but if you can imagine the title, as more literal than figurative, you will understand the meaning of the story. It is quite brilliant!
Liz D. (East Falmouth, MA)

A Girl is a Body of Water
It takes a family to raise a strong woman. In the book A Girl is a Body of Water the women in Kirabo's teach and guide her to be a woman of the 21st century. She learns from her grandmother and aunts about the life of an African living in the small village of Nattetta, Uganda. Kirabo learns the tribal and customs,the stories and ledgends, the hard work of farming and making a successful life on the land. But Kirabo's dreams go beyond the village she desires European education.

In the boarding school Kirabo meets girls who have grown up in the city. She begins to expand her worldy knowledge. Going between school and Nattetta Kirabo feels she is between worlds. Her father Tom comes home to Nattetta and takes Kirabo to the city to attend University. In Kampala Kirabo is left under the wing of her Aunt Abi, who teaches her the ways of the modern world while instilling in Kirabo the importance of her heritage.

One of the threads of Kirabo's rich story is her search for her mother, she wants to find her place in the world and family.

After university Kirabo's journey takes her back to Nattetta where she is able to reconcile her education with her families customs and ways finding a unique place for herself in modern Africa.

Ms. Makumbi has give a beautiful insight into African culture filling the book with memorable characters and stories. i would recommend this book to many friends because like any great book it can be read and experienced on many levels.
Marianne L. (Syosset, NY)

A Gem
A Girl Is a Body of Water is a beautifully written book that sketches the story of a girl in 1970's Uganda struggling to discover who she is amid the overbearing clutches of a patriarchal society. Early in the book you come to care for Kirabo, our main character, rooting for her as she navigates the myriad influences of time and place. Storytelling exerts a powerful influence upon the characters in this book, whether that be for better or for worse. Rich in its depiction of Ugandan culture in the 70's, you become immersed in its wisdom and deceit. If the intricacies of cultures beyond the western world interest you, you may enjoy this book. Given the vast differences between western and Ugandan culture, this story convincingly shows how much our human needs and desires transcend time and culture.
Sonia F. (Freehold, NJ)

A Girl Is A Body Of Water
Jennifer Mansubuga Makumbi is a born storyteller. Every word resonates with such imagery of this Uganda village and its denizens. Told in alternate chapters from a third person point of view,this novel has a " folklorish" aura about it: tradition, superstitions, tribalism is all served up in this captivating page turner.

Kirabo search for her mother haunts her throughout this novel and while seeking who and where her mother is learns about the rest of the family. The secrets, the silence is all complicit. The vernacular is at times funny, but yet brilliantly served up with personification and profound metaphors: " his stare made her feel as if the world was scorched but she was the only plant sprouting ".

The characters are rich and round... they all have a story to tell and tell it they do . At this juncture, I will say that it was helpful that there was a character list at the end of the book It was very hard keeping the numerous names in place.
Even though it took many pages later to find out who Kirabo's mother was, it was quite an experience traveling to Uganda learning about this rich culture: family, village life, beliefs, and much told about the Uganda unrest and civil war in the 1980's.

I love the storytelling within the storytelling. It was like sitting around a fire and listen to your grandmother tell stories of long ago and why life is the way it is now.
A very captivating story of a young girl coming of age: falling in love , attending school, painful experiences, but through it all she endured .
Nicole S. (St. Paul, MN)

Great storytelling
We learn early in the book that a great storyteller deserves a level of respect from her listeners. This is a great story. The descriptions of Uganda are evocative and lush. Kirabo is the type of girl heroine that you cheer for and at times grimace at. But her search for her mother, her self and her history are all heart and fascinating. Enjoy this book, it's a treat.
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Beyond the Book:
  Women in Uganda

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