An intensely personal autobiographical account of a childhood encompassing racial intolerance in 1960s Scotland, and both the idyll and the political upheaval of Sierra Leone as it attempts to embrace democracy, and finally a family tragedy with national and international repercussions.
As the child of a Sierra Leonian medical student and a white, working class woman in 1960s Aberdeen, Aminatta Forna saw bricks thrown through the windows of the family home and her mother spat on in the street and disowned by her father.
On moving to Sierra Leone, where her parents set up a clinic, she enjoyed an idyllic childhood playing among the mango trees. But her father's increasing involvement in politics, and the escalating danger, became too much of a strain for her mother, who fled back to England.
Aminatta's father then married a Sierra Leonian and became Deputy Prime Minister and the family enjoyed the life of the elite. However, after resigning in protest at a bill proposing the halting of elections, her father was jailed and his wife and children fled to England.
In 1973 Aminatta's father was released and the family were reunited - but their happiness was short-lived. Two years later he was detained again and charged with high treason. On 19 July 1975 he and eight other men were hanged - an event that effectively wiped out all political opposition in Sierra Leone for the next twenty years. From being one of the greatest hopes of Africa, Sierra Leone is officially ranked as the poorest country in the world.