Daughter of A Thousand Stars, previously known as Stretched, is an extraordinarily timely, gripping, suspenseful memoir that gives a powerful voice to many of today’s most relevant topics—violence against women, self-empowerment, cultural and national tribalism, racism, the Me Too movement, cancer, immigration, Dreamers, the complexities of mother/daughter relationships—and learning to find love for oneself in spite of it all. After surviving the trauma of female genital mutilation as a girl in Sierra Leone, Hajah Kandeh makes her way to the U.S. to try to win her mother’s love. Her story takes her on an adventure from the lush plains of Africa, to the streets of San Francisco, where blue bins labeled “recycle” are her only source for cash some days.
One day, she discovers Jimmy Choos at Saks and loves them, while marveling at the fact that the price of a pair of crimson-colored stilettos could feed a family of four back home. Facing the harsh realities of being an immigrant in racially-divided America, she is shocked to discover tribalism in the United States; there are rich tribes, poor tribes, black tribes, white tribes, political tribes, and gender-specific tribes. She dines in places in which oftentimes she represents the only intimation of color in the room.
Topped with the cultural mandates instilled in her from childhood, troubled relationships, divorce, and the threat of illness and death, she harbors a dark family secret replete with devastating consequences. These circumstances take Hajah on a journey of discovery in which she learns that she is ultimately unstoppable!
Daughter of A Thousand Starsreads like a fantasy movie but is every bit a true story. With an unusually spellbinding and poetic style, Kandeh creates a vivid picture of her often-extraordinary experiences as she searches for self-identity and a right to belong. Her writing is strong, her imagery captivating.
This riveting memoir is a clarion call to those who have been marginalized and rendered voiceless to find their voices. Stretched is a provocation to action, as well as a sound of hope. While intimate, her story is not merely personal; it is symbolic of the unbeatable power inherent in the collective voice.
Stories are the pulse of every society; they become the custodians of human histories. How else is it possible to trace where one comes from and what lessons, if any, there are to learn from civilization to civilization, or from one generation to the next? As long as humans exist, there will be a need and a place for stories. Stretched will leave readers marveling at the will of the human spirit to overcome all odds and create a legacy of rebirth, renewal and the capacity to love with a full and open heart.