In times past, this tale might have
been categorized as rags to riches. The riches here however, are
spiritual and emotional as well as economic. The heroine is called
Pretty—a name that reflects not only her appearance, but also her
demeanor and character. While the tale takes readers on an
ever-changing journey from poverty to prosperity, the heroine’s
steadfast commitment to unalterable goals reminds us that the most
difficult obstacles are often no match for dedication and perseverance.
Pretty is a young African from a tiny village in Zambia. The essence of what some derisively call a “goody two shoes”, she excels at her studies while adhering to the highest moral and ethical standards. Jealous classmates cause her to be expelled from school and sent back to her home where she’s accused of immoral behavior by spiteful neighbors. Determined not to let the deplorable actions of others hold her back, she leaves for the city where she can start anew. There, she overcomes degradation and despair by working in one menial job after another so she can further her education. As things begin to look up for her, she’s assailed by escalating events such as unwanted suitors, unplanned romance, and a string of unexpected tragedies that threaten to derail her dreams of becoming the doctor she’s always wanted to be.
The author’s acumen for storytelling surpasses a rather straightforward prose style. Yet she does imbue her people with traits that are imminently recognizable and frequently admirable, especially when it comes to many of the central characters’ patience, tolerance, and determination. Her descriptions of both rural and urban Africa create credible mental photographs of this up-from-one’s-bootstraps story of indefatigable resolve. You’re likely to remember Pretty for a pretty long time.