Linus and his family are moving from Ohio to Liberia, thanks to his dad’s new job with the US embassy. Rather than freaking out about the move (as he secretly sort of wants to), Linus decides that this is the perfect opportunity to reinvent himself: from now on, he’ll be Cool New Linus. As soon as he steps off the plane in Monrovia, he sees a black mamba, one of the deadliest snakes in Africa. His parents insist that mambas are incredibly rare, and that Linus has nothing to worry about. But as Linus goes about establishing his new identity and making friends, he constantly encounters mambas. Rather than hiding and feeling scared (that’s what Old Lame Linus would have done), he becomes convinced that he is a kaseng, and that the shares a bond with mambas. But his actions have unforeseen consequences, and Linus has to decide what to do.
I really enjoyed this story. Part of why I like it is that I identify so much with Linus–I wasn’t an Embassy Brat, but I was a Military Brat, so I know *exactly* what he is going through. But even someone who has lived their whole life in one place can identify with Linus’ desire to reinvent himself as a cooler and improved version. I also really enjoyed Linus’ interactions with his family and friends.
On a personal note, there aren’t very many books out there that even begin to address my experiences growing up, so anything that comes close, even if it’s not a fantastic piece of literature (oh, The Great Santini, I’m looking at you), is sort of important to me. The fact that this book is actually a GOOD book makes it even sweeter. Don’t believe me? The New York Times thinks so too!
Mamba Point lunch party at The Red Balloon Bookshop
Source: ARC from Kurtis, but have since bought my own