Perhaps from the cover of Deserted, it’s easy to notice that Bob Kisiki has an eye for the young, and perhaps I could say, pure at heart. Deserted takes us into the lives of a family of teenagers whose caretaker big sister has suddenly up and left, abandoning her child at the same time.
It’s a shock for the kids whose big sister has been the active mother in the absence of their parents who met an untimely demise at the hands of an assassin about a decade earlier.
What Bob does with Deserted is try to get us into the minds of a 4 year old, a 14 year old and a 17 year old and show us how they respond to this incident.
Deserted can be called a Ugandan book, simply for the fact that at times it feels like an undercover commentary on Ugandan life – the traffic jams, church services, Police impunity, boda bodas, food markets, etc and a comparison to other countries like Rwanda and how they do life. For example, the cleanliness across the border, the stoutness of their police and more…
However, besides the many commentaries on Ugandan life, it’s a book that does a lot to remain innocuous to most readers that can sit through 200 pages. And perhaps it can be attributed to Bob’s work not just as a mentor, teacher but a guide in spiritual matters.
Do not expect to find curse words or anti-Lokodo situations. It is clean. Any dirt is likely the dirt acceptable in pre-World War times. Even when he is referring to beauty, he will not allow your mind to get too imaginative. For instance, I was surprised to find a reference to Margaret Thatcher as a standard of beauty. However, this could be me. I’d have gone at least for Princess Diana.
It is a very safe book and that’s why I suspect it is written with a younger audience in mind. Not to mention it is passing on lessons in the most underhanded of ways I would say. For example, lust is defined as ‘”Lust is the…er…feeling one gets when one badly wants something they don’t necessarily need.”’
However, I believe it may also be written with the purpose of giving an alternative look at life. Many books do go all out and explore innate mortal desires and behavior. Things such as drug use, sex, murder plots etc. Deserted seems to look at life differently. There are people in this world who are babes (read babies and refer to 1 Cor 14:20) in these matters. Nonetheless it’s not ignoring the fallen nature of the world.
The main characters, Alyna and Kibo have to do life while taking care of their 4 year old nephew. This means, they must continue with school, find work to pay home bills, and contend with nosey people as well as try to find out what happened to their sister Adisa.
The book explores the phenomena of secret lives, desire for vengeance, but also tries hard to highlight the world is filled with people with good intentions.
Even though the conflict in the book centres on the actions of Adisa and personally makes me want to discover more about her circumstances, Bob decides to focus on the lives of the children. How Simmi, the youngest adjusts to from one moment having a mother, to not having one. How Alyna being the oldest has to cover for the family, be at school, work and deal with new emotions like falling in love. How Kibo has to be the man of the house, babysit Simmi and compete for drama competitions while remaining an A-student.
I wanted to know more about Adisa and her circumstances because even while the kids also ask the questions I ask, neither of us got to the depth. I wonder, is there a part two about Adisa? The streak of luck that falls upon the family is sometimes too good to be true. Yes these kids are doing everything possible not to be found without a parent and taken out of their home but there are places where the edges are not too rough. There are tense moments but does the author satiate our hunger to know too quickly? Each reader needs to decide for themselves.
You wonder how possible some of these things are, and yes they can be but my goodness – they made me want to become part of the family- tragedy had made them extremely blessed.
One will not miss the big words Bob uses and I don’t think they are by mistake. Like I said at the beginning, the book feels like one of those books a young reader can pick up, relate with, learn new vocabulary and whose at times “fantastical” scenarios will excite them. By young, I mean somewhere from the fourteens and above.
In short, I thought the publication suited young readers better than adults like myself who wanted to go deeper into scenarios, ask a million questions and wanted more friction than the occasional skirmish. And I also thought that because despite being written very well, (congratulations Bob, I failed to find a typo), the nature of the composition was leading in many places and did not let me wander.
That out, truth of the matter is, some writers have values they stick to in their work and they represent a section of readers that may not be well represented. Bob’s work is brave and can be called conscious. It does not fit certain narratives and can be enjoyed by very many who have not had an alternative for a while.
Publisher: Rhema Books