Walking to Africa
Jessica Le Bas
On an ordinary day, in ordinary New Zealand, an ordinary girl becomes extraordinary. Told through her mother’s eyes, Walking to Africa follows the girl’s journey through the strange, new and sometimes frightening world of mental health care. We meet specialists A through F, other kids, friends who want to help, an angel/nurse and the Ghostman – alongside therapies and cures, strategies and rites.
Walking to Africa is a fluid and unusual narrative collection of poetry that portrays a parent’s experience of coming to terms with the new and frightening world of mental health care. Jessica Le Bas wrote the collection to find a place of reconciliation, a harbour from the waywardness of life. By the end of the book she ushers in understanding: mental illness may have no definitive solutions but there are ways of living with it. Walking to Africa is without doubt the most moving collection of poems to appear in New Zealand for many years.
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These poems are born out of maternal agony, strength, fear and love . . . The language darts and lifts and falls in order to move and astound – Paula Green, NZ Herald
Walking to Africa is outstanding; I challenge anyone to read it unmoved. – Matt Bowler, Nelson Mail
Even those who generally avoid the genre will find it hard to put down this unusual but accessible collection of poetry. – Carrie Briffett, MindNet