Where the Children Take Us: How One Family Achieved the Unimaginable (Paperback)
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In this spellbinding memoir, popular CNN anchor Zain E. Asher pays tribute to her mother’s strength and determination to raise four successful children in the shadow of tragedy.
Awaiting the return of her husband and young son from a road trip, Obiajulu Ejiofor receives shattering news. There’s been a fatal car crash, and one of them is dead.
In Where the Children Take Us, Obiajulu’s daughter, Zain E. Asher, tells the story of her mother’s harrowing fight to raise four children as a widowed immigrant in South London. There is tragedy in this tale, but it is not a tragedy. Drawing on tough-love parenting strategies, Obiajulu teaches her sons and daughters to overcome the daily pressures of poverty, crime and prejudice—and much more. With her relentless support, the children exceed all expectations—becoming a CNN anchor, an Oscar-nominated actor—Asher’s older brother Chiwetel Ejiofor (12 Years a Slave)—a medical doctor, and a thriving entrepreneur.
The generations-old Nigerian parenting techniques that lead to the family's salvation were born in the village where young Obiajulu and Arinze meet with their country on the brink of war. Together, they emigrate to London in the 1970s to escape the violence, but soon confront a different set of challenges in the West.
When grief threatens to engulf her fractured family after the accident, Obiajulu, suddenly a single mother in a foreign land, refuses to accept defeat. As her children veer down the wrong path, she instills a family book club with Western literary classics, testing their resolve and challenging their deeper understanding. Desperate for inspiration, she plasters newspaper clippings of Black success stories on the walls and hunts for overachieving neighbors to serve as role models, all while running Shakespeare theatre lines with her son and finishing homework into the early morning with Zain. When distractions persist, she literally cuts the TV cord and installs a residential pay phone.
The story of a woman who survived genocide, famine, poverty, and crushing grief to rise from war torn Africa to the streets of South London and eventually the drawing rooms of Buckingham Palace, Where the Children Take Us is an unforgettable portrait of strength, tenacity, love, and perseverance embodied in one towering woman.
Zain Ejiofor Asher was born to first-generation Nigerian parents in South London. She was raised by her mother after losing her father in a tragic car accident when she was just 5. A graduate of Oxford University and Columbia University, she is currently the anchor of One World with Zain Asher on CNN International. Ejiofor Asher’s brothers are Oscar-nominated actor Chiwetel Ejiofor, successful entrepreneur Obinze. Her sister Kandibe is a medical doctor. She lives in New York City with her husband and two sons.
"Asher delivers a well-written chronicle of absolute determination and familial devotion. A wholly inspiring portrait of an extraordinary immigrant family." — Kirkus Reviews (starred review)
"An incredible personal story of tragedy, triumph and what's possible when you persevere, while keeping a firm hold on who you are and where you come from." — Don Cheadle, award-winning actor, producer, and director
"[Asher] is a master storyteller. . . . Thoughtful emotion and striking immediacy fill every scene, making for a mesmerizing read from start to finish.” — BookPage
"At its heart, Where the Children Take Us is a love letter to the author’s mother, in all her strength and determination." — Booklist
An inspirational story of resilience that will appeal to readers interested in memoir, parenting, mid-20th century Nigerian and British history, and actor Chiwetel Ejiofor. — Library Journal
“A deeply moving and riveting memoir. The courage and resilience displayed by Zain Asher's mother leave a lasting impression, and offer valuable lessons for raising a family no matter the circumstances." — Arianna Huffington, Founder & CEO, Thrive Global
“This powerful and beautiful memoir has so many of the aspects of life we relate to, sincerely appreciate, and remind us of the depths of our humanity. Overcoming tragedy, the strength in family, and the unstoppable spirit of a mother who made the greatest sacrifice to better the lives of her children.” — Common, Academy Award and Grammy Award winning actor/rapper, and New York Times bestselling author
“A heartwarming love letter to a mother who miraculously pushes through tragedy to steer her children toward their seemingly impossible dreams, through a methodology all her own.” — Golden Globe nominated actor, David Oyelowo, Selma