Author Topic: Review request for 'A Journey to Remember'; Literary Fiction; Word count 1959  (Read 292 times)

Offline ather71

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This the story of a young man who ventured out of his homeland to a far away place in search of a better life.  It was need that drove Fadi to leave his home country of Ghana. All he wanted was a life in which he could support his family. Fadi braved the hardships of a perilous journey to reach the United States of America, the country he loves.

I have pasted the first couple of chapters of my book 'A Journey to Remember'. This is open for Beta Review.
Thank you



                                          My Beginnings

Life is a seed that passes through stages. With the proper conditions a seed gets to germinate into a plant. When catered for, it develops to its fullest potential and becomes useful to the society. But not everyone gets the favorable conditions which enable them to reach their potential. Some achieve it, but others get cut off due to circumstances. Whether cut or burnt, from the ashes we grow back again. I am a seed who grew into a plant. Gentle and tender, with the rough conditions I became stronger. To achieve my aims, I had to make the toughest decisions of my life. From the shores of Ghana, to the wild Amazon forest. From the borders of Mexico to detention centers in the USA. I lived, I learned and I experienced. Now I feel the responsibility to share my story.

   My name is Fadi. I am from the West African country of Ghana. I grew up with my family in a small community on the Cape Coast of Ghana. My home was a short walk from the ocean. It was a small home. The climate was quite pleasant. There was the rainy season and then the dry season for most of the year. At home I enjoyed the company of my father Sabir, brother Kwasi and sister Aisha. Kwasi was a couple of years younger than me. He was outgoing, smart and made friends easily. He taught me how to swim in the ocean. Aisha and me would get along well. We would often talk about things to do in our free time. She liked making dessert. My father loved his family. He worked hard to put food on the table for us. He worked as a boat builder for the fishing community. Father often worked every day of the week from early in the morning till sunset. Taking care of one's family was not an easy task in my town. He would always spend some time with the family each day. Due to his work, father had met people from various backgrounds. He would tell stories of brave fishermen who had sailed up and down the coast of West Africa. He knew several languages of Ghana. Once he told us that Ghana was the first African country to gain it's independence from colonialism. That made me feel proud.
   The open air marketplace was near my home. One could buy anything, from electronics to fresh food and more. I would stroll the marketplace often along with my friends, just to pass some time. My primary language was Hausa, but I also knew English. This helped me communicate with people from other cities and tribes. There were tall traditional drums for sale like the kaganu and kisi.  A drummer could make a big rhythmic beat on those. The cloth shops were also fascinating to browse through. I liked the elaborate adinkra cloth. They had designs on them that displayed various concepts. Accra the largest city of Ghana was about an hour away by road. I had been to Accra a few times. That was where the economic action happened. Maybe some day I could own a business there with my own employees, I thought. I loved the electronics shop where I was lucky to win a great deal on a smartphone. That was the beginning of  my social life online.
It was a Saturday and we were relaxing at home.
“Fadi lets go to the plaza for some ice cream.”, said Aisha.
We enjoyed going for ice cream, when the mood was right. This time Kwasi had something more in mind. “We can go look at the motorcycle dealership. I heard they have some cool new models.”
Me: “Alright lets go have some fun.”     

   I grew up very enthusiastic about my studies to the extent that my friends called me 'Prof'. I had a strong passion for soccer. I usually played forward position on my team. It continued this way till my first move to middle school. My home was near the school, so I would walk there. My usual routine was attending school and playing soccer afterwards. Once I really enjoyed going on a trip with my class to a nearby national park. It was like a safari tour. Like any formative stages of a boy, teenage was crucial. That was the time I enrolled in senior high school. I made new friends in the persons of Baba, Faruk and Saed. I used to study with my friends for homework quite often. As I was good in academics they welcomed me as a tutor.
“You want to get together to work on our homework tonight”, said Baba after school. Midterm exams were approaching, it was time to prepare.
“Sure. I have to help father with something. I will call you later”, I replied.
We hung out close till we completed our senior high school. Life was not all rosy but it was okay. There was no need or desire to travel outside the country. After completing senior high school I enrolled in the University of Cape Coast. I rode the public bus to the University. I studied Economics and Geography. The academic experience at the university was interesting. People from all over Ghana attended classes there. But perhaps I was seeking something more.

   It was around that time when reality began to stare at me. The financial situation of my family was not good at all. My stepmother would at times be stressed about the finances of our household. As I was the eldest child in the family, she would often get frustrated with me. Whenever she boiled over I was on the receiving end of it.
My stepmother would often hit me and shout: “Go find some work”.
Father would respond: “It will be alright, be patient”.
I decided that I had to do something to improve our living conditions. I came to realize that completing a university education did not guarantee a better life. I looked at the economic situation in my country and at the number of graduates who suffered to make ends meet. Without a job it was hard to survive there. I also felt a strong responsibility to take care of my parents, looking at how my father invested in my education through the years.
I was about to begin my third year at the university when thoughts of traveling abroad became very strong. The thoughts were very compelling on me during that phase of my life. My father was about 68 years old then. It was my intention that by the time he reached 70, I should be the one providing for him. I also had tremendous pressure on me to take care of my family's needs. These thoughts were dreams that needed action in order to make them a reality. I didn't want my life's reality to be a nightmare. I desired to fully support my family and then to take my father to Hajj. These were the reasons that made me leave the shores of Ghana. I was so fueled by my desire, that I did not even take time to get the visa of my intended foreign country, the United States of America.
                                          A Stepping Stone

I started talking with my friends about my thoughts of going abroad. I felt sure that I could make it to the USA. I planned to find work there and send money to my family to relieve their condition. Word got around, till one day I received a call from an agent. He seemed interested in my travel plans and said that he could be of assistance. He gave me his contact information and some references. He said that we was available for a meeting to talk further. After the call I felt excited about the possibilities that could open up. The next day I spoke to my friends about the travel agent and his offer. They all seemed positive about it. It was decided that we would meet the agent later that week.

   I, Baba, Faruk and Saed all sat in the meeting room of the travel agency. Across from the table was the agent, Mr Mogambo. He was a middle aged man neatly dressed in a suit. We introduced ourselves.
Mogambo: “Welcome to my office. I hope you didn't have trouble getting here.”
Me: “Your directions were good. Here we are!”
Mogambo started giving us the details on a possible travel itinerary to the USA. He described how other clients had gone through the journey and made it through safely. He mentioned the places that the traveler would pass through and what to expect.
Mogambo: “Well Fadi, what do you think of that plan I just described.”
Me: “I think it is risky. What if I get lost in the jungle. Besides, the police will also be on the lookout for migrants.”
Mogambo: “Ah there's nothing to worry! So many people like yourself have made it to America along this route.”
Me: “You sound very confident.”
Mogambo: “I am one of the best agents in this market, as you probably know from my references. I also happen to have contacts with important people in many countries.”
Me: “ And how much does it cost me?”
Mogambo: “$8,000, just for you young man. Once you are in America there will be plenty of jobs. You will make lots of money and everything will be fine.”
The thought of being in America filled my mind. Hollywood! Skyscrapers! Fast cars! Nice people! Big houses! Beaches! Money! I felt like I was already there.
“Fadi, Fadi”, said Mogambo.
My thoughts stopped wandering.
Me: “Will anyone be traveling with me?”
Mogambo: “Do you know Ali. He lives near your home. He is going to America too. He has big plans when he makes it there.”
Me: “I have met him once.”
The thought of a travel companion was comforting. The journey described by Mogambo was like passing through uncharted waters.
Mogambo: “Be careful, you have to follow the directions of the agents you are connected with along the journey. If you don't, then the police will surely catch you. That might as well be the end of your trip.”

          Over the next couple of days I talked with some of Mogambo's references who told me that Peru was a stepping stone for me to reach the USA. They also said that quite a number of people had used that route to make it there. After much deliberations with my close friends I decided to follow through.
At home I started thinking of how to bring up the topic with my father. A week passed before I discussed this with him. At first he did not like the idea of me leaving home. It was too risky a trip. I expressed to him that I wanted to take responsibility for supporting the family. America was the land of opportunity I said.
A few days went by and I approached him again.
Me: “Father it is for the best reasons that I want to go.”
Father: “Fadi I care about you. I don't want you to risk it out there.”
Me: “Mr Mogambo has helped many people across to America.”
Father: “What about your education here.”
Me: “Once I am working in America I will be sending enough money home. It will be alright.”
Father: “Well, you must continue your education there along with work.”
That was what I had been waiting to hear. Father reluctantly agreed to pay a major portion for my journey. My friends put in a big chunk of cash for me too. They were hoping that I would be sending them money from America in the near future.

Offline bailish

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First paragraph is not interesting. For example, the most interesting part of the story is here:

I am a seed who grew into a plant. Gentle and tender, with the rough conditions I became stronger.

However, a quick thought will tell you that this describes everyone who has ever lived. It's called growing up. Cut out the entire first paragraph.

My name is Fadi.

This begins your story, but the rest of this story doesn't seem to say much. I'd cut it much shorter, perhaps condense it all to five or six lines, and give us something of interest. You should emphasize the difficulties you encountered and how you overcame them. Your expectations vs. what America was like when you arrived. As it is, it might be a story you want to tell, but I doubt there is much of an audience for it.

Offline ather71

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Hello bailish

Good observation. I appreciate your comments for the first couple of chapters of the story. Thanks


Offline BKelley

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Your story is an interesting one--I personally hear about people making such journeys quite a bit but the insight into one person's story is interesting. Overall it did make me want to know more about what happens next to the character.

The first paragraph overall really doesn't draw me into the story. I don't develop much interest in the character saying that because while it seems he really did have a tough time (judging by things said in that first paragraph), I feel like a lot of people do and why do we need to know this story? Maybe the answer to that comes later in the book, but I feel like it doesn't really answer the "so what?" question. Also in the first paragraph, do you maybe mean "cared for" instead of "catered for"?

Good descriptions of the family members--interesting little details add to their depth. Though I was kind of surprised to suddenly be introduced to a stepmother in paragraph five when she had not been included in the list of people he shared a home with in paragraph two.

I feel like more variation in the length of sentences would be a pleasing change. For instance you have quite a few short- or medium-length sentences, so maybe adding a long one in to break it up would read nicely?

I would be interested in knowing more about some of the details of his life. For instance, he says "Alright, let's go have some fun." But then we don't get to know what happens when they go out? If this information is distracting from pushing the story forward I can see why you would leave it out, but I feel like I would like to know more about quite a few parts of his life that only get a paragraph each (the marketplace, school, his friends, etc.).

Just some thoughts. You've obviously done a lot of good work on this already, good luck as you continue to develop it.

Offline ather71

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Really good review of the chapters.  I appreciate your comments. The manuscript is work in progress. Thanks