The book opens with a quote from Heart of Darkness, making the reader pretty aware that this is unlikely to be a cheerful story full of rainbows, bunnies and unicorns. Our unnamed narrator is a young Norwegian boy, not yet turned eighteen, on a rather impulsive journey to the Ivory Coast with his best friend, a former Liberian child soldier named Sam. Sam, who has lived in Norway for some years, has been told that his mother is still alive and the two boys are now trying to find her. It’s revealed in brief, teasing flashbacks that they secured the money for the trip through rather shady and morally dubious means, and our narrator is on the whole, not entirely sure about how wise their course of action is.
Still, as a life-long foster care kid without any real parental figures of his own, he understands Sam’s need to find his mother. He is fiercely loyal to his best friend, even if it means taking a very ill-advised journey into a foreign country ravaged by civil war. Within the first day there, they lose a large amount of money through the carelessness of our narrator, and things go from bad, to worse to really very dangerous and there is no way this is going to end well at all is there? rapidly. The narrator bought a copy ofHeart of Darkness at the airport, and keeps reading and re-reading it throughout the ever more perilous journey. As well as discovering what a charmed life he has led in Norway, even without loving parents to raise him, our narrator also discovers that his best friend is a very different person in Africa than he was when they were hanging out on the streets of Oslo. Does he actually know Sam at all? Can you ever escape your past?