Descended from West African kings and healers, raised in the turbulence of Guinea in the 1960s, Kadiatou Diallo was married off at the age of thirteen and bore her first child when she was sixteen. Twenty-three years later, that child–a gentle, innocent young man named Amadou Diallo–was gunned down without cause on the streets of New York City. Now Kadi Diallo tells the astonishing, inspiring story of her life, her loss, and the defiant strength she has always found within.
About My Heart Will Cross This Ocean
Descended from West African kings and healers, raised in the turbulence of Guinea in the 1960s, Kadiatou Diallo was married off at the age of thirteen and bore her first child when she was sixteen. Twenty-three years later, that child—a gentle, innocent young man named Amadou Diallo—was gunned down without cause on the streets of New York City. Now Kadi Diallo tells the astonishing, inspiring story of her life, her loss, and the defiant strength she has always found within.
It was Kadi Diallo’s voice that captivated the public when she came to America to defend her slain son, and it is that same voice—candid, wise, and generous—that fills the pages of this extraordinary book. Kadi reaches back to her earliest memories of growing up in Guinea, the daughter of a strict man who was thwarted by the relics of the French colonial system. Raised in a world in which age-old religious and cultural rituals were disappearing before the onslaught of modernity, Kadi saw her own childhood end abruptly at age thirteen when her father literally gave her away in marriage. Kadi prayed for death, but instead she found herself plunged into a baffling new life—the life of a second wife in a strange household in a distant country, and soon afterwards the teenage mother of a sweet-natured son.
Yet somehow, Kadi managed not only to survive but to flourish. Despite the rigid strictures of African-Islamic culture, she attended school and later started a successful business of her own. She eventually divorced and remarried and lived for eight years in Bangkok. Back in Guinea, she learned that her oldest child Amadou had been shot in New York City in a case of racial profiling.
Kadi read with outrage the American newspaper description of her son as “an unarmed West African street vendor.” “Nothing,” she writes, “could be more distant from the truth.” Now, with great pride and searing love, Kadi Diallo finally tells the truth about herself and her son.
My Heart Will Cross This Ocean is an extraordinary book—a girl’s story of desire and innocence, a wife’s story of defiance, a mother’s story of unbearable loss, and a woman’s story of unshakable strength and love.
From the Hardcover edition.
Paperback | $12.95
Published by One World Aug 31, 2004| 272 Pages| 5-3/16 x 8| ISBN 9780345456014
Ebook | $9.99
Published by One World Apr 23, 2009| 272 Pages| ISBN 9780307538765
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“REMARKABLE . . . A GRIPPING BOOK.” –Newsday
“A moving story that makes the tragedy of Amadou Diallo’s death all the more poignant and present. With the help of Craig Wolff, Kadiatou Diallo shows us the roots of her son’s story in Africa and in a mother’s heart.” –JULIA ALVAREZ
“A rare, rich, and quite moving portrait . . . in prose that is alive with the smell of herbs, the taste of sweet sauces, the weight of deep traditions, the tensions of political life in post-colonial Africa.” –TheWashington Post Book World
“An unexpectedly enchanting, unflinching story of Amadou’s upbringing, culture, and his mother’s life struggles in their native Guinea.” –Upscale magazine
“This lyrical memoir is both moving and disturbing. Its subtle tone exposes the aggression inherent in patriarchy (whether it functions in rural Africa or the New York City police department) in a way that the usual rhetoric cannot.” –ACHMAT DANGOR