Linus can reinvent himself as a cool, bold guy when his family moves to Liberia for his dad’s new job at the U.S. Embassy. Middle school in Dayton in the 1980s was tough enough without being known for panic attacks, so even going to Africa is bound to help, right?
When they walk down the airplane steps onto the hot runway asphalt, a deadly black mamba snake is the first thing Linus sees of Africa! Black mambas are supposed to be very rare, shy of people… so why is the Embassy residence area called Mamba Point?
Before school starts, Linus and his older brother Law (who changed his name from Larry on the way over from the States) explore their new neighborhood. Most kids of Embassy employees hang out at the pool, so Law is there all day, every day. Linus meets Matt downstairs, who introduces him to role-playing games with many-sided dice and crazy situations. He visits the library for comic books to draw from and a book about snakes, especially the black mamba.
Linus spots black mambas all over, even in the residence courtyard, when others don’t see them at all. He even goes so far as to bring his black mamba into his closet to keep it close by as a pet. Then a local vendor tells him of ‘kaseng’ – the idea that some people have a deep connection to certain animals, perhaps even sharing some characteristics with them.
Slowly, he becomes more assertive and self-confident much like the black mamba he has come to know. Could Linus really share a ‘kaseng’ with the friendly black mamba who begins to visit him?
When their parents go away for the weekend, Law decides to throw a party, and things go farther out of control than either brother could imagine.
Recommended by: Katy Manck, Librarian-at-Large (retired academic/corporate/school librarian), Gilmer, Texas, USA