The Girl Who Crossed The Line

...a prequel that with a little too much world-building but has some fine interwoven storytelling. ...

Asha is a young girl in Tanzania, attending a prestigious school but not fitting in with the other girls. While the others all have rich and famous parents, her parents work for a living and as a result she is looked down on and despised by the others. Her weekend treat is a visit to the market, although she is forbidden from some parts of it by her parents. While she is there she plays with her best friend, Chandra, and the one thing they want the most is a set of shiny shoes from the market stalls. However, when she gets a pair of shiny red shoes from her parents, she decides to do something for Chandra, whose own shoes are broken. Going back to the market, she waits until the stall holder is asleep before stealing a set of shiny red shoes to match her own. After escaping the ruckus that is raised, she gives them to Chandra, even though she is well aware that she has committed her first crime, It is the last time she will see Chnadra for years, as the following day her family leave on their annual safari vacation and tragedy strikes.

This is the prequel to the Red Heeled Rebels book series and gives a look at the history of its main protagonist, Asha. The plot is fairly simple, showing Asha’s place in society and detailing the first crime she commits. As this is a prequel, there is a certain amount of foreshadowing of the future, mixed in with a little of the present, but this feels more like filling in some gaps than a story in it’s own right. I would suppose that if you have read the main books in the series than this will feel familiar, but if you have not, it doesn’t measure up to how the book is described. In fact, I was expecting a lot more from the book, only to be disappointed that the unforgivable crime is stealing a pair of shoes, and the human trafficking is hinted at without coming to the fore. It is also unusual that Asha is not named until half way though the book, which does makes her feel like she like a secondary character in her own story.

However, what the book does well is make the reader feel and understand the life Asha, from her difference from the other girls and how her parents are trying to give her a better life. The snippets of the characters as they appear help to show the divide between them and the choices they have been making, even if Asha does not fully comprehend them yet. Coming across from a childish perspective, you can understand why she makes the decisions she does and this story is at its descriptive finest when it concentrates on Asha and her friends. In those sections, where her ideas and understandings are playing out, the book pulls you into to the lush, descriptive markets and the people in and around them from a child-like view. It does more for her character, than the mean girl sections at the front of the story. Formatting-wise, I didn’t see any issues, with no obvious spelling mistakes. Even the addenda at the book for more novels by the author is well put together and follows out neatly from the end of this story, with a little bit of a taster of the first books in the series following this one.

This is certainly one for fans of the series, who want some extra backstory filled in, for others it would be to get a taste of the authors writing and see if they enjoy it. It certainly piqued my interest for the rest of the series.

Rating: 3
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