The Ghosts and Jamal

Thirteen-year old Jamal is the endearing protagonist in this charming and ultimately uncomfortable story set in Nigeria, from exciting HopeRoad Publishing. Author Bridget Blankley tells his story almost solely from Jamal’s point of view, and he has a unique take on the world—informed in part by his particular way of understanding the spiritual beliefs and superstitions of his people, and his enforced isolation from his community as a result of his epilepsy. Jamal has no understanding of his condition and believes he is a boy with no soul who must keep the bad spirits away from the villagers—the same spirits that make him fall down unconscious.

Following a terrorist attack that kills his entire village, Jamal sets out alone to find the ghosts who he believes caused the deaths. In many ways, Jamal has always been alone, having been shunned by his own people and treated with cruelty. As a result, his limited understanding of others and of the meaning of friendship give him additional challenges. Jamal experiences several brief friendships during his travels: with Afiba the kitchen boy, the girl in the dump, Mham and Ahmed, as well as his memories of a kind imam who understood his epilepsy and spent time with the boy. Each friendship teaches him something new, and he begins to understand and become comfortable with himself. But for every friendship, Jamal also comes across intolerance, abuse and unkindness. We want to rescue this introverted young hero from all the pain he experiences in his life.

This is an important and powerful novel, written in an accessible and direct style that will appeal to many young readers.