The Door of No Return (Hardcover)
September/October 2022 Kids Indie Next List
“The early part of this book could serve as the story of Kofi, an 11 year old boy in Upper Kwanta. When the story becomes one of enslavement, it’s felt viscerally. Kwame Alexander will break your heart in half the words other authors might need.”
— Gwen Papp, Literati Bookstore, Ann Arbor, MI
Dreams are today’s answers for tomorrow’s questions.
11-year-old Kofi Offin dreams of water. Its mysterious, immersive quality. The rich, earthy scent of the current. The clearness, its urgent whisper that beckons with promises and secrets…
Kofi has heard the call on the banks of Upper Kwanta, in the village where he lives. He loves these things above all else: his family, the fireside tales of his father’s father, a girl named Ama, and, of course, swimming. Some say he moves like a minnow, not just an ordinary boy so he’s hoping to finally prove himself in front of Ama and his friends in a swimming contest against his older, stronger cousin.
But before this can take place, a festival comes to the villages of Upper and Lower Kwanta and Kofi’s brother is chosen to represent Upper Kwanta in the wrestling contest. Encircled by cheering spectators and sounding drums, the two wrestlers from different villages kneel, ready to fight.
You are only fine, until you are not.
The match is over before it has barely begun, when the unthinkable–a sudden death–occurs…
The river does not care how grown you are.
As his world turns upside down, Kofi soon ends up in a fight for his life. What happens next will send him on a harrowing journey across land and sea, and away from everything he loves.
“Alexander lures you in and endears you to Kofi and his world in a way that has you fully invested in time and place...His writing is at once vivid and simple, lyrical and surgical, expressive and exacting, comforting and cutting. It hypnotizes and sobers, hypnotizes and sobers, in a rhythm as timeless as the talking drum that carries the tales of his people: Kum-PUM PUM! Kum-PUM PUM! I wish this book existed alongside Huckleberry Finn when I was in school. I am glad it exists now!” —Lupita Nyong’o, Actress and Author
"Alexander turns the nightmare of the past into an epic story for all times and all people. The Door of No Return is a breathtaking, heartbreaking triumph and an instant classic."—Lev Grossman, NYT bestselling author of The Magicians
“As I read The Door of No Return I kept thinking about how transformative it would have been to have had a book like this when I was young. This novel moves a devastating history beyond the realm of abstraction and fills our imaginations with characters who laugh, cry, love, learn, worry, and wonder. I will be thinking about this book for a long time. Kwame Alexander has given us a gift.”—Clint Smith, #1 NYT bestselling author of How the Word Is Passed
“A riveting, not-to-be-missed trilogy opener that will leave readers invested in what is to come.”—Kirkus Reviews
"Alexander weaves a breathtaking tale that is ripe with the juxtaposing emotions that come with any coming-of-age story. Through Alexander’s verse, readers are reminded of the beauty and unbounded richness that Ghana and her people have to offer...Alexander has written a masterpiece, one that powerfully and truthfully gives agency to the Black voices of the past. Profound and important reading."—Booklist
"Themes of conflict within and between cultures, and of war and peace, hate and love, despair and hope are deeply embedded throughout this gripping tale."—Horn Book
"Interweaving moments of joyful exuberance and heartbreaking sadness via sensate lines by turns sweet and stinging, Alexander’s sweeping novel conjures a captivating, resonant world of African tradition, life, and ancestral wisdom."—Publishers Weekly