Hougton Mifflin & Co., 2003

Helen doesn't want to stay in the fattening hut. She's told her mother that she's too young, not ready for it. Why must she marry so soon? She doesn't want to gorge on rich meals for months—until she is round and heavy, like a good bride should be. Just like her mother and sister before her, just like all the women of her tribe. When she finds out the terrible secret the fattening hut harbors, she becomes even more confused and defiant. Lonely, scared, and feeling hemmed in by family, by culture, and by tradition, Helen fights for the chance to be educated, young, and free.

Chapter One (Reproduced here)

Winner of Boston Author's Club Julia Ward Howe Award for the 2004 best book for children

A Booksense 76 pick for 2003-2004

A NYPL choice for Books for the Teen Age 2003

One of the Grolier forty best young adult novels for 2003

Elected to the 2005 Amelia Bloomer Project list

"Collins beautifully evokes the setting and Helen’s inner voice with her keen sense of rhythm." –Kirkus

"As with most YA novels written as poetry, fewer words are used but the impact of each word and the tempo of the narrative drive readers on. An unusual book." – KLIATT - Codes: JS; Recommended for junior and senior high school students. 2003, Houghton Mifflin, 186p.

"This is a tough book that expects a lot from its readers. The terrible secret hidden in the hut may be lost on younger teens or less-sophisticated readers. Nevertheless, this is a powerful and unique book." –Roxanne Burg, Orange County Public Library, CA Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information, Inc. School Library Journal

"Writing in beautifully crafted free verse that thrums with the rhythm of escape, Collins treads the thinnest line, avoiding terrifying readers with the disfigurement that awaits Helen and yet building tension and compassion. Helen's escape is a jubilant moment of liberation, so powerfully written that it seems to be not just for this character, but for a tribe, a gender, a race." –Leigh Fenly, San Diego Union-Tribune.

Recommended by "Best Books for High School Readers:Grades 9-12, Catherine Barr and George Gillespie, 2004

Recommended by "Best Books for Middle School and Junior High Readers" Catherine Barr and George Gillespie, 2004             

Recommended by "Exploring African Life and Literature:Novel Guides to Promote Socially Responsive Learning", Jacqueline N. Glasgow and Linda J. Rice, 2007 Chap. 7