Newington's memories are vividly evocative of Nigeria as seen through the eyes of a White colonialist child. She uses the name 'Anna' in the book. Her father was a British diplomat, observing the civil war as it began in the late 1960s. Her best friend is Helen, daughter of a Korean-American spy. The first time Anna visits Helen's home, she tells her, "My name is Jake. I'm a marine." Helen says, "My name is Dave. It's a code name. I'm a spy." Anna's emerging lesbian self can be glimpsed in her interactions with Helen, as well as in her adamant statements that she will never marry.
Candid, gritty and compelling, the narrative is a collection of memory fragments - sometimes dreamlike, even nightmarish. Anna's relationship with her mother is troubled and dark. Disturbing incidents are dropped liked grenades between descriptions of kite-flying at the seaside and traditional Igbo tales recounted by Christine, a domestic employee.
For other stories of White girlhoods in Africa, try Don't Let's Go to the Dogs Tonight (Alexandra Fuller); The Poisonwood Bible (Barbara Kingsolver); Twenty Chickens for a Saddle (Robin Scott); and Rainbow's End (Lauren St. John).