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Young Adult Fiction Africa

Between Sisters

A novel

by (author) Adwoa Badoe

Groundwood Books Ltd
Initial publish date
Sep 2010
Africa, Girls & Women, Values & Virtues
  • Hardback

    Publish Date
    Sep 2010
    List Price
  • Paperback / softback

    Publish Date
    Sep 2010
    List Price
  • eBook

    Publish Date
    Sep 2010
    List Price

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Where to buy it

Out of print

This edition is not currently available in bookstores. Check your local library or search for used copies at Abebooks.

Recommended Age, Grade, and Reading Levels

  • Age: 0
  • Grade: p to 12
  • Reading age: 0


When sixteen-year-old Gloria fails thirteen out of fifteen subjects on her final exams, her future looks bleak indeed. Her family's resources are meager so the entire family is thrilled when a distant relative, Christine, offers to move Gloria north to Kumasi to look after her toddler son. In exchange, after two years, Christine will pay for Gloria to go to school.

Life in Kumasi is more grand than anything Gloria has ever experienced. She joins a youth band at church, and Christine has even promised to teach her to read.

But Kumasi is also full of temptations -- the owner of a popular clothing shop encourages her to buy on credit, and the smooth-talking Dr. Kusi offers Gloria rides in his sports car. Eventually Gloria is betrayed by the people around her and is disillusioned by her new life. But in the end she decides who she can trust, and draws on her own considerable inner resources to put the bad experiences behind her.

About the author

ADWOA BADOE is a Ghanaian-born physician, storyteller, educator, writer and African dance instructor. She is the author of the novel Between Sisters, as well as several picture books, including The Pot of Wisdom, illustrated by Baba Wagué Diakité and Nana’s Cold Days, illustrated by Bushra Junaid.


Adwoa Badoe's profile page


  • Commended, CCBC Best Books for Kids & Teens

Editorial Reviews

...lays out a picture of a Ghanaian adolescence, circa 1994, that sweeps together coming-of-age quandaries and, for the reader, an education in the prevailing attitudes, social issues and culture (even cuisine) of that place and time.

Toronto Star

Badoe's sharp and engaging prose unfolds the story with spryness, deftly navigating readers through heady social issues

Kirkus Reviews

...will give the young audience an insight into a life very different from their own.


The story provides a fascinating glimpse into a culture...


...delves into some difficult issues - including HIV/AIDS, teenage pregnancy, poverty, and unpaid domestic work - in a way that will engage young adult readers...

Rutgers University Project on Economics and Children

...the betrayals, quarrels, misunderstandings, and secrets are universal, and so is the friendship, love, and kindness.


This honest glimpse of one adolescent is as particular to the well-detailed West African setting as it is universal in subject and theme.

The Horn Book

Badoe deftly conveys details of life in contemporary urban Ghana ... her experiences will be readily identifiable to contemporary teens in a global society.

Bulletin of the Center for Children’s Books enlightening reading experience.

Multicultural Review

Librarian Reviews

Between Sisters

Will a North American 16-year-old girl understand the struggles that Gloria Bampo faces in Between Sisters? If we are all sisters (“sistahs”) under the skin, then it is important to try. The author, Adwoa Badoe, sets the tale in her native Ghana, profiling the people’s modern day lives through Gloria’s travels from rural Accra to urban Kumasi. Functionally illiterate, Gloria faces a future life similar to that of her beloved family: poverty, survival, illness. Education and passing the Junior Secondary School exams are the only opportunities for escaping and becoming “somebodys.”

After failing her exams, Gloria accompanies a distant relative, Christine, a medical doctor, to Kumasi and takes up her duties as cook, housekeeper and child minder for the doctor’s son, Sam. It is here in Kumasi that Gloria’s life becomes complicated — with new friends, some false; romance and intrigue; her burgeoning sexuality and the discrepancy between the lives of those who have and those who have not. As the tale unfolds, the reader fears for Gloria’s emotional and physical safety amid disturbing choices she and her friends make. She is “sistah” to many: Doctor Christine, her Kumasi friend Bea, her biological sister Effie, left behind in Accra.

While this is Gloria’s story, she is also the observer and narrator of other people’s lives and choices and comes to understand her value system and what is important to her. She sees the desire for Western consumer goods and pop culture; the assumptions made about the value and morals of the serving classes; the failure of the country’s educational and health systems; the tension between Christian beliefs, superstition and modern secular morality. Always present in the background are the shadows of AIDs, sexual predators, the loss of family, the exploitation of young human souls and the betrayal of innocents.

A glossary of local and cultural terms and words is provided, which assists the reader to understand the dialogue. This book deals with some mature themes and is recommended for young adults aged 13 and older. It would complement a curricular unit about emerging African countries and/or economic disparity.

Source: The Canadian Children's Bookcentre. Fall 2010. Volume 33 No. 4.

Between Sisters

When Gloria fails her final exams, her future looks bleak. With her mother ill and her father out of work, Gloria moves north to Kumasi to be a nanny and housekeeper for a well-to-do relative. Gloria is betrayed by the people around her and disillusioned by her life. When she decides who she can trust and draws on her inner resources, she puts the bad experiences behind her. A glossary of Ghanaian terms is included.

Source: The Canadian Children’s Book Centre. Best Books for Kids & Teens. 2011.

Other titles by Adwoa Badoe