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Desertion was the best thing to them

A copy of the book. PHOTO BY TONY MUSHOBOROZI

This novel is set in the middle of Kampala, Old Kampala to be exact, in the current times. Like the name suggests, it is a story of how two teenagers and a toddler are deserted in the most unceremonious of circumstances.

About 10 years prior to the beginning of the story, a security guard shoots and kills a man and his wife. They leave three young children.

The double homicide forces the eldest orphan (Adisa) to take on the responsibility of parenting the younger two, thus losing her youth. After more than 10 years, she decides to desert them. It is at that point that the story starts with a great narrative arc.

She disappears from home, and makes sure no one knows where she is or how to contact her. She leaves her four-year-old son with her two teenage siblings.

The older one (Alyna) is a girl of about 17 years, while the younger one (Kibo) is a boy of about 14. Now they have to look after themselves and take care of their nephew too.

This story premise sparks a deep curiosity about how the teenagers will cope. Small conflicts push the story forward smoothly. But then, the conflicts tapper off quarter-way into the book and are replaced by melodramatic scenarios.

The melodrama

While the reader is nervously wondering how they will pay for their essential bills in the middle of the city, a mysterious person consistently clears them.

Their school fees, paid in full for a whole year in advance. Kibo does so well in the drama team at school he not only wins Shs1m, he wins a trip to London.

Alyna goes looking for a job for no reason at all and gets one at a well-paying high-end restaurant. Someone gives them Shs20m as a gift.

When they learn that their sister is in Rwanda and travel there, they bump into her without even trying. And to top it up, Adisa, their sister gives them Shs70m for upkeep.

Characterization

The teenagers are far from being typical teenagers. They are consistently abundant in wisdom.

No silly mistakes; not even with all that windfall millions makes them do anything stupid.

The Time Keepers, a secret society that Adisa belonged to before disappearing, is very underutilised. While they are ominous in nature, they offer no conflict at all.

Plausibility

The book toes the middle line. No taboos are broken, no philosophical questions are asked or answered, no point is made.

At the end of the story, one comes to the realisation that the desertion was one of the best things that ever happened to the family. And that is not only implausible, it is annoying.

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