Sofia's Journey

By Saskia Sherry 8D

Secrets in the Fire by Henning Mankell

Secrets in the Fire is set in Mozambique during the Civil war. It is the tale of a young 13 year old girl named Sofia and her journey to find a new life after her father and fellow villages were killed during an attack by the bandits. Sofia, her mother Lydia, her brother Alfredo and her sister Maria travel about Mozambique trying to find a new life. Secrets in the fire is a true story and an unforgettable one at that

Character Profiles

Sofia Alface

Sofia Alface is the main character in Secrets of the Fire. She is 12 years old and already a very independent woman. You could only describe Sofia as a brave, beautiful, inspiring happy girl. She has one sister called Maria who unfortunately died in a land mine accident, a brother named Alfredo who is Lydia's first son and another brother named Faustino who is Lydia's and Sofia's step dad, Isais's son.

Maria Alface

Maria Alface is Sofia's sister and best friend. She was older than Sofia but everyone said they could be twins. Maria owned a white dress which is very symbolic of purity and love, Maria's dress is left in the first village and burned, but Sofia makes her a second one when the reach the new village. Maria unfortunately dies in that dress as Sofia stepped on a landline and Maria was caught in the blast, giving her internal bleeding and killing her.

Lydia Alface

Lydia is a loving mother of many children, those being Sofia, Maria, Alfredo and Faustino. In my opinion Lydia suffered the most in this book, not physically like Sofia loosing her legs but emotionally. She had to go through losing Maria, Sofia loosing her legs and then running away and all this time looking after Alfredo and Faustino. Lydia is strong, resilient and brave.

Sofia's Journey

Physical, Spiritual and Phycological Journey (Spoilers)

Sofia started in a small village, this was the happiest time of her life. It all changed when the bandits came, the bandits killed almost everyone except Sofia, Maria, Alfredo, Lydia and a couple of other children and women. Sofia and her family split from the others and head towards the mountains. Sofia is tired and has sore feet from the prickles and brambles. The hot African sun shone down on her family making her hot and sweaty. After days of travel the final reach the beach, Sofia and Maria feel rejoiced at the sight of the cool salty sea. They swam for a while but Lydia said that nothing would grow and they had to move on. They came to a little village, Sofia felt relieved but they soon found out that the neighbouring village was raided by bandits, so Lydia took her children away so the would be safe. Eventually they found a village just near Boane, South Mozambique. They spoke all different languages in this village, they all came from other villages that were attacked by bandits. Sofia was very happy there after she got to know her fellow villagers. Everything was going good for sofia. Occasionally she would feel sad and have bad dreams about the bandits killing her father in front of her and Maria. She met Totio, which made her happy because Totio helped her make a white dress for Maria. Soon after though, Sofia while playing a game with Maria accidentally stands on a landline and it blows up. Maria has internal bleeding and Sofia's legs are ruined and get infected. Sofia is moved to the hospital in the city with her sister. Maria dies after saying that she wanted to go home. Sofia worries that she will be the last person on earth, alone and afraid. Sofia dreams that she is sinking in a sea of darkness, this is symbolic of Sofia feeling pain and suffering. She meets Dr. Raul and is moved to a disability and old age home, where she will live until she can learn to walk with artificial legs. She feels cold and very alone. Veronica, the owner of the place, comforts Sofia. After months of living there she meets a girl just like her, except she has only lost one leg. Sofia feels a lot better with her new "temporary sister". They learn to walk together and talk together. Soon though she leaves, and Sofia is sad though. Sofia starts to think that is is her fault Maria died. Sofia takes a bus to Boane then walks to her village, hoping for love from her mother. But something was wrong, Isais had married Lydia and he was a real mean guy, and personally I don't like him. He was a drunken, rude man who abused Sofia. Sofia was feeling horrible, seeing her mother being ruled over such a man would be sickening. Sofia runs to Dr Rauls hospital and is taken home by him. She stays at his house in the city for a night and then moves to Dr. Raul's night watch's Sister's house. She feels really happy there, but misses Lydia and worries about Alfredo and Faustino. Sofia learns to sew with a real sewing machine and she feels very proud of her self. Totio comes to visit Sofia in the city and offers her a job as a seamstress, replacing him. He says that he is too old and that she should inherit his sewing machine, move back to the village and set up her own shop where Totio's was. She takes the job and says she will move back in a month. Before then Lydia comes and visits her. Sofia, Lydia and Alfredo visit the cemetery where Maria was buried, then they all go back to the village. Isais is gone but Sofia still moves out of home and into Totio's old hut. Lydia is sad and happy at the same time, so is Sofia. The book ends on a nice note of seamstress Sofia sewing a white dress for a mystery old woman, who she thinks is a reincarnation of Muazena.

I don't know about you...

But I would be excited if I saw this beautiful beach, imagine what Sofia would have felt like the first time she saw the beach. It would me magic.


Sofia's journey only covers a little bit of Mozambique and where she travels is quite poor. Mozambique is a beautiful country and has some wonderful scenery. The following video is a small tourist video of Mozambique highlighting the best bits out of this great country. Enjoy!

(P.S this video is not my work, all credit to the youtube user owner. Meant for educational purposes only)


Secrets in the Fire is a brilliant book and a really good read. I suggest you pick up a copy from your local library. It's worth it. Although some themes in the book are quite heavy and sad at some points, this book will make you enjoy every moment of your life. Do Sofia a favour and go run for her!

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