Title: The Angolan Girl by Telma Rocha
Published: July 13, 2019 by Word Tree Publishing
Notes: I received a copy to review from the author, but this in no way affects my review.
Noteworthy: Historical novel, true story, TW: attempted sexual assault, death, war
It’s 1975 in Lobito, Angola, where Rosa, Leo, and their children are trapped in their home as militants battle for power. After thirteen years Portugal lost the War of Independence, now civil war rages on. The Carvalho family has given up hope for peace in their beloved homeland. A plan to build a life in Canada sets into motion. But their journey won’t be easy.
Rosa takes comfort in the knowledge that her life has never been easy. Memories of her childhood spent bouncing between wealth and servitude, longing for a mother she couldn’t know, and a naïve adolescence cut short fuel Rosa’s courage to make good on a promise she made long ago.
After five straight days the gunshots have quieted; the time to flee is now. Which would you choose if memories and a change of clothes were all you could take?
The beginning of this book was so gripping and interesting—it opens at the climax of a war—and this fast paced story didn’t falter for a second. Seriously.
The book is mostly in chronological order and details the life of Rosa, Telma Rocha’s grandmother. To watch her go from a humble and harsh upbringing to the strong and fierce woman that Rocha has known her whole life was an entirely new reading experience, and one I am not likely to forget. This book was so heartbreaking and so raw. Rocha didn’t sugarcoat the several struggles her grandmother went through to get to her position in life, and it only went on to enhance the story.
I never got bored, and this one of the most binge-able books out there. Instead, I learned so much about what seems a lost history. The author intelligently wove historical facts in with the scenes so the reader had a better context of the story, which was very helpful since I’ve seldom heard of Angola.
The voice of the novel struck me right away. Akin to The Diary of a Young Girl in some respects, the narrative also has a vintage, almost storyteller voice. I felt like I was right next to Rosa as she was telling me the long and interesting story of her life.
Very few people could fill up a novel with their life and make it interesting and meaningful. Rosa is so deserving of having her story told, and I know it will inspire and emotionally impact every person who reads this, as it did me.
I highly recommend this book to lovers of historical fiction/ history, family sagas, and really, anyone. This was an impactful novel based on someone’s real life and a solid debut from Telma Rocha.
“I was weak, naïve and inexperienced, and while I am still those things, I am stronger now.”
“But this is no practice drill or false alarm; this is real, and more real than we could ever imagine it to be.”