EMWF Kids' Reads

My Name is Konisola
Written by Alisa Siegel
Published by Second Story Press

A book review and interview by Arlene (11)


I read the book My name is Konisola. I loved the book because it has a very inspiring journey of a mother and her daughter coming to Canada and Konisola having to learn to fend for herself. Luckily, she has help along the way.

Alisa Siegel writes in such a way that encourages us to be grateful for what we have as what we read is based on a true story. Someone actually went through all of it. I recommend this book especially to those who find themselves unsatisfied with the luxuries they have.

Interview with the author:

Arlene: What inspired you to write this story?  

Alisa: I came across this story by accident many years ago. It was a short item online, maybe a paragraph long, about Darlene, a hospital nurse who had stepped in to care for a patient’s child. A refugee.
I wanted to know more. 
I searched for Darlene. When I found her, she told me the very powerful story of Konisola, and of her mother who had been very sick. It gave me goosebumps. 
I then spoke with several of the other people involved—a doctor, a lawyer, a judge, another nurse. A circle of people began to form in mind, a circle that had formed around Konisola.
Konisola was young and alone, far from home, in a foreign country, surrounded by strangers. 
She didn’t know where she would live, or who might help care for her. So many questions hovered.
This a story full of drama and heartache, fear, and uncertainty. 
But it’s also a story about adventure and luck, bravery and taking chances. And it’s a story about the generosity of strangers. That's what stayed with me most of all from the conversations: generosity. Generosity. Luck. Trust. Everyone in this story did what they could to help Konisola. No one expected anything in return. I love that. 
I first told this story as a radio documentary and then one day, someone said, “this could be a book for young people.” 
I decided to try.

Arlene: Do you know Konisola and Darlene personally?

Alisa: Yes, I know Konisola and Darlene. I met them for the first time when I interviewed them for a radio documentary. We stayed in occasional touch over the years. When I asked them for permission to turn their story into a book, they agreed. We’re still in regular contact. We talk on the phone sometimes and text each other.

Arlene: Do you normally write books based on the truth?

Alisa: My Name is Konisola is the first book I’ve ever written.
For work, I make radio documentaries that are about real people and real events.
This was one of my favourite stories I’ve had the good fortune to work on.
I love to read fiction, but sometimes, it’s stories based on real people and real events that are the most haunting and the most hopeful.

Thank you to our interviewer Arlene, and to Alisa Siegel!