Thursday, June 28, 2012

My Name is Butterfly

My Name is Butterfly My Name is Butterfly by Bernice L. McFadden

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I knew but I didn't want to know.
Bernice McFadden's book "My Name is Butterfly" is a wake-up call for me.  Ritual servitude by young girls in Ghana, I had read about.  I was even there, and didn't or wouldn't connect the dots.

McFadden's story is beautifully told, the image of nine-year-old Abebe taken away to a shrine will stay with me forever.  It hurts my heart to think about it.

I visited Ghana in 2000 with Elderhostel, a continuing education program for older adults, that schooled us in the Akan language, Twi, and gave us lectures in the political, social, educational, and cultural systems.  We started at the capital, Accra, and moved out into the villages of the central region of Ghana. We visited the town of Larteh, known for its shrine. At the shrine, people had brought goats and chickens to be sacrificed, while they petitioned the high priest to cure some ill, fix some problem.  We brought an offering of 2 bottles of Schnaps, which he poured as a libation, for our good health and safe journey.


Much of the emphasis of the tour was on the story contrasts in Ghana, the poor and the prosperous, the modern and traditional.  The day after we visited the shrine, we attended the Fetteh Methodist Church.  The choir, dressed in black robes, wearing mortar boards on their heads, sang A Capella (4 part harmony) in Twi, a traditional Methodist service -- a John Wesley hymn, and the Te Deum Laudamus chanted in Twi. There could very well have been some of the same people at the shrine, sacrificing goats and chickens, and perhaps little girls.

My Name is Butterfly is a must read.

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Friday, June 1, 2012

Creatures Here Below

Creatures Here BelowCreatures Here Below by O.H. Bennett

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

"Praise God from Whom all blessings flow, praise Him all creatures here below."  That reference may be lost on people who don't spend much time in church, particularly of the Methodist variety.

I really wanted to love this book.  When the publisher offered a free Kindle special for a few days in February, I jumped on it, but didn't get around to reading it until last week.  I liked the writing, but I can't love a book if I can't connect with any of the characters. 

The story is about the residents of a boarding house, all but one of whom live a depressing existence, living in the past, angry almost psychotic, hopeless, demented and delusional.  Not even the baby shows signs of happiness.  I was ready to give up at about half-way through the story, and then changes started to occur in their lives.  I began to see a reason to turn the page, and there was hope for something better in their lives.  First one person brought a new sense of hope, then another, and so on, until I stopped expecting a disastrous outcome.

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