City of Saints and Thieves by Natalie Anderson
Prepare to be drawn into this novel of intrigue, revenge, suspense, action, and a great deal of heart. I can’t remember reading anything like this compelling story, set in the contemporary jungles of the Congo. It’s a murder mystery, and also an action-filled heist. At the center is the story of Tina and her mother, refugees from the Congo who arrive in Kenya to try to build a new life. Tina’s mother find work as a maid with a prominent businessman’s family, but this too unravels as murder, vengeance, and discoveries about corruption and crime tear their world apart.
Tina becomes a master thief and plans to use her skills to track her mother’s murderer and expose the corruption that is behind everything. But she learns that nothing is as she had believed. As the book progresses the action picks up to become a nail-biting thriller. Tina is a wonderful protagonist and this well-written novel will compel readers to dig in and learn more about the historical context. Though the novel is long, the chapters are short and the writing is so engaging, I imagine middle schoolers as well as YA readers will appreciate this book.