Thursday, December 5, 2013


18137062Vuto is only 17 when her third child dies, mere days after birth.

Malawian tradition prevents men from considering a child their own until it has survived for two weeks. Frustrated at not being able to speak to her husband, Solomon, about all three of the children she’s had to bury alone, Vuto forces him to acknowledge the dead baby. Her rejection of tradition causes Solomon and the village elders to banish Vuto from the only home she’s ever known. She seeks refuge in the hut of U.S. Peace Corps volunteer Samantha Brennan, where Solomon discovers his wife has not left as she was told.

When Solomon arrives in the night to attack Vuto, Samantha disregards her oath to remain uninvolved in village politics and interjects herself into the center of the conflict, defending Vuto and killing Solomon in the process.

The women go on the run from Vuto’s village and the Peace Corps, encountering physical, ethical and cultural struggles along the way.

*May Contain Spoilers*

A.J. Walkley describes the world of tribal Africa as only few outsiders see it in her novel, Vuto. Inspired by her time in the Peace Corps, Walkley shares, in intimate detail, what happens to a woman in Malawi who goes against tradition.

Dyna (aka Vuto) and Samantha share the status of main character, brought together by an unspeakable horror. Samantha is incredibly strong in her beliefs and doesn't hesitate to stand up for them. She's courageous, loyal, and braver than I can even explain. Readers will support Samantha throughout the novel, every step of the way, and that is where their connection will form. Dyna is an African who doesn't accept her native traditions. She is nicknamed Vuto, because it's translation means trouble or bad. Earning the nickname by standing up for herself and her deceased children against the elders of the tribe. Readers will understand and empathize with Dyna's plight forming an immediate emotional bond.

The plot of the novel follows Dyna and Samantha after Dyna is banished from her villiage and Samantha kills a village elder to save Dyna's life. They escape, heading toward the border, unsure what to do in this disaster of a situation. With help and hindrance from other Peace Corps volunteers, Dyna and Samantha struggle in the aftermath of what they've both done, finding strength only in each other. Vuto is emotionally charged and full of rich detail that readers will find gripping and unable to put down.

Rating: 4.5/5 Cups

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