What is this about?: Tina wants revenge for the death of her mother, and it’s a cause that has driven her for years — until she finds herself robbing her murderer’s house, and gets caught by Greyhill’s son. Together, they begin a search for evidence that takes them into Tina and her mother’s past.
What else is brewing?: Tina has defined herself by her mother’s murder, and her search for her killer. Michael forces her to re-evaluate her assumptions and her expectations, and the thing is with Tina, you can feel her rebelling at this even as part of her has to acknowledge that no matter what she’s gone through and what she thinks she is, she’s not a killer.
Blurb: Street-thief Tina breaks in to the luxurious house where her mother was killed to steal from Mr. Greyhill and nail him for her mother’s murder. She is caught red-handed.
Saved by Mr. Greyhill’s gorgeous son, Michael, the pair set in motion a cascade of dangerous events that lead them deeper into the mystery, and reveal dark and shocking secrets from Tina’s past.
Tina and her mother fled the Congo years ago as refugees, trading the uncertain danger of their besieged village for a new, safer life in the bustling Kenyan metropolis. The corruption and politics of the Congo, and the gangster world of Sangui City, are behind Tina’s mother’s downfall. Is Tina tough enough to find the truth and bring the killer to justice?
Tina wants revenge, that much is crystal clear right from the beginning of City of Saints and Thieves. Anderson creates the picture of a determined girl, who has built walls around her heart in an effort to make sure she gets the revenge she’s desired for her mother’s death.
After her mother’s death, Tina ensures her sister, Kiki, is safe in school while she joins the Goondas, a gang that roams the city. They give her the connections and the skills to be able to put her plan for revenge into action, but she doesn’t reckon on Michael having returned home from school and catching her.
Tina is compelling, angry and still grieving for her mother. I know given that they’re parent and child that much is obvious, but still there’s a rich history here that has shaped her mother and by extension Tina, and Anderson draws their history wonderfully, meshing it into the main part of the plot seamlessly.
Michael is the thorn in her side, forcing her to acknowledge there’s a chance her assumptions might not be entirely correct. They have a long friendship since Tina essentially grew up in the same house as he did, given he’s Greyhill’s son. Michael has missed her, cares for her and he’s been worried for her. He may have romantic ideas, but that isn’t a big part of the story at all — which I appreciated greatly because Tina is so much more than that.
For all revenge has been fuelling her, Tina knows she has to be sure of the identity of her mother’s killer, which is how she and Michael begin to work together properly, searching for the evidence he says will exonerate his father while she is certain of the opposite.
Their relationship is fiery, each arguing for their stance with the other. But with Tina, Anderson mixes strength and vulnerability, making her an exceptional heart of this story.
Tina values family above everything else, whether it’s Kiki, or her Goonda family. She continues searching for answers about her mother’s past, steeling herself at what she hears and growing stronger for it — even if it changes everything she thought she knew about herself and her mother.