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Publisher's Summary

An emotionally riveting novel for fans of Ibi Zoboi and Erika L. Sánchez about two sisters in Nigeria on their journey to break free of an oppressive home. 

Sisters Cheta and Zam couldn’t be more different. Cheta, sharp-tongued and stubborn, never shies away from conflict—either at school or at home, where her mother fires abuse at her. Timid Zam escapes most of her mother’s anger, skating under the radar and avoiding her sister whenever possible. In a turn of good fortune, Zam is invited to live with her aunt’s family in the lap of luxury. Jealous, Cheta also leaves home, but to a harder existence that will drive her to terrible decisions. When the sisters are reunited, Zam alone will recognize just how far Cheta has fallen—and Cheta’s fate will rest in Zam’s hands.

Debut author Rimma Onoseta deftly explores classism, colorism, cycles of abuse, how loyalty doesn’t always come attached to love, and the messy truths that sometimes, family is not a source of comfort, and that morality is all shades of grey.

©2022 Rimma Onoseta (P)2022 Algonquin Young Readers

Critic Reviews

“Onoseta’s devastatingly vulnerable debut, told nonlinearly in two teen Nigerian girls’ dual perspectives, portrays a tempestuous sisterhood amid colorism, familial trauma, and financial precarity…. Onoseta uses visceral prose to sensitively depict Zam and Cheta’s home life and the abuse they endured. The teens’ complicated familial relationships, further ravaged by wealth disparities and societal presumptions, presents an arresting look at two girls embarking on diverging futures in a character-driven story that promises—and delivers—hope for a brighter tomorrow.” Publishers Weekly, starred review

“The novel tells each sister’s story in ways that are moving and show how understandable the decisions they make are, even when they can’t empathize with one another…. Onoseta explores a range of social issues, including class, colorism, intergenerational trauma, and colonization, through a masterfully crafted and diverse cast of characters. This nonlinear narrative presents a universal story: girls striving to find their way in a patriarchal society. A stunning and emotional debut.” Kirkus Reviews, starred review

“Masterfully written, evocative, and searing. How You Grow Wings is the story that I've been waiting for my whole life. Rimma Onoseta captures all-too-familiar, yet complex, family dynamics with candor, tenderness, conviction, and nuance. A brave strike against deep-seated generational trauma that has plagued families across several cultures for far too long.” —Candice Iloh, author of the National Book Award Finalist Every Body Looking 

What listeners say about How You Grow Wings

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Fantastic Story

This was an awesome read (listen). Emotional and endearing at the same time. It really brought to light the fact that African children also have scars and feelings that are real although traditionally, never acknowledged! Thanks for addressing this issue with your work.

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wonderful story, excellent narration

This story was a pleasure to read, as well as listen to. To me, the Nigerian accent is musical. I cared deeply for both girls, Cheta took a little longer to warm up to, and when I discovered why she is so obstinate, it sort of broke my heart. This is a wonderful story, I loved it.

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