A Girl Called Problem

A Girl Called Problem
by Katie Quirk (Author)

Booktalk: Thirteen-year-old Shida, whose name means “problem” in Swahili, certainly has a lot of problems in her life — her father is dead, her depressed mother is rumored to be a witch, her family bears the weight of a curse, and everyone in her rural Tanzanian village expects her to marry rather than pursue her dream of becoming a healer.

Snippet: Shida hiccupped, as she often did when she was excited, and covered her mouth.

Several heads down below turned to look up at her. One of them was the scowling face of her mother, Mama Shida. Mama Shida was slumped against their mud hut, her matted hair sticking out in wild tufts and her skin a sooty gray from months of being unoiled. Her two rectangles of faded kitenge cloth, which she wrapped around her waist and torso, were tattered and dirty. Like all Sukuma mothers, Mama was named after her first child, and right now she looked just like her name: Mama Shida, Mother of Problems.

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