Driving the Birds

Driving the Birds

4.27 (98 ratings by Goodreads)
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Acclaim: "The language is understated, but quietly beautiful, and I find myself invested in Jabonkah as she's portrayed on the page, not only because of what happens to her, but because of her view of the world, sometimes sweet and sometimes shrewd, and always strong." Rebecca, agent "The story is compelling and the writing is extremely strong-some of the metaphors are wonderfully original. Moreover, the author manages to capture the child's voice perfectly." Valerie, professor Description: Jabonkah Sackey's only desire in life was to be like her mother and to be left alone. However, being born deep in the African bush in 1948, her desires didn't really matter. Cursed with an abusive father, Jabonkah was saddled with the plans he had for her. Instead of being a "stupid bush woman" like her mother, she was going to learn to obey. But after repeatedly disappointing and rebelling against her father, he sets forth on a rampage targeting her mother and nearly beats her to death. After stepping in to save her mother and scalding her father with boiling water in the skirmish, Jabonkah's fate is unfortunately sealed. She is sent to the Society as punishment, where women from her own tribe perform the ritual of female circumcision. Six weeks later, Jabonkah returns home to the continued beatings until she is eventually disowned and sent away to live with a missionary by the name of Mother Stevens. Unfortunately, it's with Mother Stevens that her real struggle begins. Will Jabonkah escape the oppression and misery that is ruling her life, or will she succumb to her depression? Set against the harsh setting of mid-century Africa, Driving the Birds takes readers on a journey from small villages in Liberia to African missions, and eventually the United States. With this particular backdrop, Jabonkah's story brings many issues to light that affect countless women around the world. By documenting the horrible genital mutilation that she suffers in detail, Driving the Birds aims to bring about further awareness to an issue that is still prevalent today. Though the subject matter can be intense and discouraging at times, Jabonkah uses her faith and an uncommon personal resiliency to keep the story from setting into a despondent manner. With true personal freedom as her goal, Jabonkah is able to overcome numerous obstacles and a lifetime of hardships in route to achieving her dreams and ensuring her happiness. Driving the Birds by Russell Traughber is the uplifting true story of one woman's courageous journey from a small village in Liberia to the freedom that America offers. With unmistakable charm, unwavering determination, and a truly unique worldview, Jabonkah enthralls readers with each passing chapter. Her personal journey and repeated injustices are equal parts heartbreaking and infuriating. From repeated abuses at the hands of others and the subjection to female genital mutilation, Jabonkah's plight provides a window to the sufferings of less fortunate women around the world. However, where parts of her story enrage and discourage, it's her spirit and determination that ultimately leave readers feeling like they have taken part in Jabonkah's triumphs as well.show more

Product details

  • Paperback | 256 pages
  • 152.4 x 226.06 x 25.4mm | 430.91g
  • Russell Traughber
  • United States
  • English
  • black & white illustrations
  • 0615621570
  • 9780615621579
  • 1,445,767

About Russell Traughber

While many have wanted to write Jabonkah's amazing story, Russell Traughber was the only one she trusted to do the honor. Traughber and Jabonkah had been colleagues for some time before she revealed her story to him.show more

Rating details

98 ratings
4.27 out of 5 stars
5 52% (51)
4 30% (29)
3 13% (13)
2 4% (4)
1 1% (1)

Our customer reviews

What an amazing story about the life of Jabonkah/Jeanette. I was both filled with grief for her suffering and loss as well as jubilation for her fighting spirit. I could barely read for tears at times and regularly amazed at the strength of character she showed. She manages to overcome so much trauma and not let it define her, somehow keeps her faith, and remains hopeful and strong. Apologists for FGM as a cultural practice please read this book. Read just how many girls died when Jabonkah was cut. Nearly a third of the girls! Considering the numbers of girls mutilated in Liberia and Sierra Leone are barely declining this account is as relevant today as it was when Jabonkah was subjected to the practice. So many girls who are subjected to the violence that Jabonkah experienced, including FGM, either did not escape or live to tell the tale. For this reason, hers is an incredibly important testimony. Everyone needs to read Driving the Birds, especially those who suggest FGM is not patriarchal in the Liberian/Sierra Leonean Secret Society because 'Women do it'. Read about the fate of the girls who had been cut- they are sold to the highest bidder. The training in the “bush school� is all about how to be a submissive, powerless bush wife. How is this not ritualistic oppression of women? Russell Traughber’s writing is superb. I feel I am listening to the voice of Jabonkah/Jeannette, as she grows from an 8 year old girl into a young woman. I am truly inspired and longing for the sequel!! Please, have the courage to read Jabonkah/Jeanette’s important story to see how much one person can overcome and why we must all fight against female genital mutilation in all forms.show more
by Paula
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