The Door of No Return

The Door of No Return
Age Range
Release Date
September 27, 2022
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Dreams are today’s answers for tomorrow’s questions.

11-year-old Kofi Offin dreams of water. Its mysterious, immersive quality. The rich, earthy scent of the current. The clearness, its urgent whisper that beckons with promises and secrets…

Kofi has heard the call on the banks of Upper Kwanta, in the village where he lives. He loves these things above all else: his family, the fireside tales of his father’s father, a girl named Ama, and, of course, swimming. Some say he moves like a minnow, not just an ordinary boy so he’s hoping to finally prove himself in front of Ama and his friends in a swimming contest against his older, stronger cousin.

But before this can take place, a festival comes to the villages of Upper and Lower Kwanta and Kofi’s brother is chosen to represent Upper Kwanta in the wrestling contest. Encircled by cheering spectators and sounding drums, the two wrestlers from different villages kneel, ready to fight.

You are only fine, until you are not.

The match is over before it has barely begun, when the unthinkable–a sudden death–occurs…

The river does not care how grown you are.

As his world turns upside down, Kofi soon ends up in a fight for his life. What happens next will send him on a harrowing journey across land and sea, and away from everything he loves.

Editor review

1 review
beautifully written and evocative novel in verse
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THE DOOR OF NO RETURN is a powerful and sweeping middle grade read written in verse. Using the lyrical form, the reader is transported to the life of the 11-year-old Kofi, who loves to swim and has a crush on a girl named Ama. He attends school where his teacher insists they learn "The Queen's English" and who has harsh punishments for their mistakes. Kofi does not mind when he has to read Shakespeare though, and it has made an impression on him.

Life changes when a wrestling match at a festival results in a death, and then slave traders arrive to pillage and torture. Kofi's life is suddenly and irrevocably changed in the worst ways as he hopes for survival and watches the people he loves suffer.

What I loved: This is such a poignant and powerful read that really brings Kofi to life amidst the pages. The use of poetry is quite evocative, and different styles are used throughout to convey the changing emotions and state of Kofi's world. It is really a masterful use of the form that has a forceful impact on the reader. It is really stunning and beautiful, and will definitely pull the reader into the story.

The pace is just right, moving faster or slower as needed along with Kofi. There is much that happens in the book, and the reader understands just as much as Kofi, which means that they experience his emotions alongside him. Kofi is an endearing character, and it makes his story all the more compelling. The book handles some really heavy themes in an approachable way that will work well for the intended middle grade audience, but will speak to other age groups as well.

Final verdict: An evocative, potent, and mesmerizing read, THE DOOR OF NO RETURN combines masterful writing with an unforgettable story that is sure to leave readers gasping. Highly recommend picking this one up - for middle grade audiences on up.
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