In 2008, Zimbabwe is in transition, and politics permeate the everyday lives of its people. Students attend class without their teachers, who are protesting and striking. Business people face rapid declines in profits. Landowners who benefitted from the land-reform program of 2005 defend the land redistribution.
Fifteen-year-old Shamiso is grieving the loss of her father, a journalist and outspoken critic of Zimbabwean politics, whose recent death in a mysterious car crash turned Shamiso’s world upside down. Gone is her stable life in England; now at a boarding school in Zimbabwe, Shamiso isolates herself socially, nursing her anger and resentment.
But her new roommate, Tanyaradzwa, who is suffering in her own way with a secret cancer diagnosis, draws out Shamiso’s feelings. As her friendship with Tanyaradzwa deepens, Shamiso’s defenses break down. But how will she cope when she discovers that this relationship, too, may end in devastating loss?
The concise chapters in Hope Is Our Only Wing move back and forth in time, focusing mainly on Shamiso’s experiences, but italicized interludes intermittently reveal other characters’ perspectives, so that readers encounter multiple voices and experiences. This unconventional format results in a powerful mosaic of personalities and situations and creates a vivid portrait of a nation and society in flux.
Questions of justice and reform serve as a powerful backdrop to this personal story of a young woman’s growth into hope and connection. Written in spare and evocative prose, this memorable taste of Zimbabwe will leave readers thirsty for more of its kind.