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In this coming-of-age novel, a young boy learns firsthand about the contradictions that bedevil the people of Guyana, including the legacy of slavery, the clash of cultural traditions, and the inhospitable terrain. Hector Bradshaw, a sickly child living in Georgetown, finds his life turned upside down when his family decides he would be better off living in the country and sends him away to the remote village of Tarlogie. Once settled there with his kind but old-fashioned guardian, Sister Smart, Hector struggles to make sense of his new community. As time goes by, he is given a dry colonial education, is puzzled by his guardian?s fondness for moral precepts, and is fascinated by the harsh African vision of the old hunter Doorne. Above all, the boy struggles to feel at home in a world where nature?so beautiful and so tremendously dangerous?dominates the people?s lives.