November 11, 2020 8:36 AM EST

At 12 years old, Kirabo discovers that within her is a rare embodiment of women’s “original state”—a sense of strength and vitality all but smited by her culture in rural Uganda. Sometimes, this force flies out of her body to rebel, scaring the sweet, docile Kirabo. She grows wise under the influences of a local witch, her grandparents, her aunts, a stepmother and the absence of the mother who abandoned her when she was born. Through her saga, Jennifer Nansubuga Makumbi unfurls a world where, when women aren’t silenced, they frequently fight against one another—and elders’ ideas of empowered womanhood wait to be renewed.

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