Help me find this sci fi book I've forgotten
November 23, 2021 11:41 AM   Subscribe

I read a book sometime between 2012 and 2018, and while I remember all sorts of weird little details I can't find the book again. Please help! It's about a teenage girl who lives on a different planet, and her village flees from a war.

The book was written in first person and was probably intended for a young adult audience. I think, but I am not sure, that the author was a woman. I think, but I am not sure, that the author's last name started with a letter near O in the alphabet (I remember vaguely where I picked it up in the library; I don't currently have access to that library or I'd be scouring the shelves!).

More plot details: The book starts out with a teenage girl living in a village near a desert or wasteland. She's the daughter of somebody important in the village, she has a fiance, she has a dog, her life is pretty good. Then her village hears that a war is coming (possibly between some aliens who also live on the planet? The village is all humans, I think) and they're likely to get caught in the crossfire, so everybody packs up their stuff and gets ready to cross the desert to safety. The girl packs some sentimental items and her dog's favorite chewing rock (weird item, so I remember it!), but during the journey she loses just about everything she brings. A lot of the villagers die on this journey--some might get bombed by the people (aliens?) at war, some might die of thirst or starvation, some just get separated from the girl and she doesn't ever find out what happens to them.

Somewhere in the middle of the book the girl and one friend join another group of refugees, and I think they meet a man with a dog or jackal head who the friend ends up in a relationship with.

The girl meets a boy around her age at some point and they end up in a relationship and travel together. They make it to a city but end up leaving there as well.

I *think* that near the end of the book the girl ends up finding her mother or possibly both of her parents, and they have to travel through some kind of haunted cave in which her dog dies--I know something bizarre like this happens, but I'm *really* unclear on the details.

I've posted about this book on the Name That Book forum on librarything, but nobody's been able to help yet! I hope somebody can figure this out!
posted by cheesegrater to Media & Arts (8 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
It's been quite a while since I read it, but your description made me think of Who fears death by Nnedi Okorafor. No worries if that's not it, it's kind of a hunch since I can't remember a lot of the details myself.
posted by Athanassiel at 4:15 PM on November 23

It's definitely not Who Fears Death. I've never read it, but The Knife of Never Letting Go is the right time period.
posted by theweasel at 6:26 PM on November 23

Binti, by Nnedi Okorafor? Not sure about the dog or tbe rock but a lot of the other plot points track.
posted by foodmapper at 6:57 PM on November 23

Definitely not The knife of never letting go which had a male protagonist, swamp rather than desert. But even if not Who fears death there's enough themes in common - plus author starting with O - that it could be worth checking out Okorafor's other titles. I feel like I remember the detail of the dog and the rock. I also read her book Lagoon around the same time, maybe it was in that one?
posted by Athanassiel at 7:57 PM on November 23

Definitely not Binti, which takes place entirely on a spaceship.

Does the library in question have an online catalog, or librarians contactable by email?
posted by bashing rocks together at 10:03 PM on November 23

I'm thinking maybe the third in the Binti series, The Night Masquerade?
posted by kbuxton at 10:49 PM on November 23

Response by poster: It's not any of Okorafor's books (though now I am going to check out some of her stuff I haven't read already!). I'll try to get in touch with some of the people at the library (it's the student-run SFF library at MIT, and unsurprisingly they're having a complicated semester).
posted by cheesegrater at 8:50 AM on November 24

Best answer: Found it!! The Glass Mountains by Cynthia Kadohata.
posted by cheesegrater at 12:56 PM on November 24

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