Girl Called Problem

Girl Called Problem

A new start sounds good to Shida, as Tanzania becomes a unified country in 1967, but can the 13 year old and the other villagers truly find a better life in their new town?

So many problems in her life - mama depressed and thought to be a witch, a curse tied to their family, even Shida's name means 'problem' in Swahili, her only gift from her late father's family. She learns about healing herbs from the village grandmothers and helps families with small illnesses - why can't the village elders see that she should become a true healer, instead of just planning to be married?

To become a strong new African nation, the people need schools and health care, so the president asks those in small villages to move and form towns. Move from Litongo? Each family will have a new hut with tin roof and a plot for growing food. All the children will go to school, even the girls!

The president's promises are true - new huts, plots of land, a school, and a clinic! But some already living in Njia Panda don't want more people in their town, and many traditional men think that girls shouldn't be in school, including their teacher! Odd things begin to happen in the Litongo part of town - cattle wander from the thornbush corral, clothing goes missing (Mama Shida is sure it's another curse).

Can Shida and her cousins convince their teacher that girls belong at school?
Can Shida care for her mama and have time to work with the clinic nurse, too?
Can she solve the mysterious things happening to her neighbors?

A full and vibrant slice of life in the early days of Tanzania, A Girl Called Problem tries to outrun her own name and find a way for the Litongo villagers to truly become part of the town and their country's future.

Recommended by: Katy Manck, Librarian-at-Large (retired academic/corporate/school librarian), Gilmer, Texas, USA – blogging young adult books beyond the bestsellers at

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