The Twelfth Heart by Elizabeth – Irene Baitie

Year of Publication: 2010

Genre: Novel, Y.A

Published by Kwadwoan Publishing, The Twelfth Heart, won the 2009 Burt Award for African Literature, a pan-African prize that promotes and celebrates excellence in youth fiction.

Mercy Tiwaa Gyemfi, the narrator, has just arrived in Accra to attend St Felice Mixed Senior High School. Her choice of school is mainly driven by a desire to escape Aboagyekrom, the poor, idle, uninteresting village that until now has been her home. We are told that in Aboagyekrom, ‘nothing ever happens there’ and that ‘even the newspapers get there a day late’. (p2)

At her new school, Mercy is assigned to Morton House. It is this house (or more precisely a picture of it) that had captured her imagination back home in Aboagyekrom, way before she ever stepped foot in the school. The picture, which she had seen on a book front cover, showed the wide, green, lawn in front of Morton House with grass as smooth as a carpet and green as the leaves on a mango tree.

“There was no place in Aboagyekrom that looked so green and well kept,” Mercy had wondered as she looked at the picture. (p3),

In a bid to fit in with her new surroundings, Mercy chooses to only associate with the well-off girls in her dormitory.

Readers, who have attended boarding school will, likely, identify with Mercy’s antics and those of her friends. As the book plays out, we encounter familiar stories that remind us of our own school days – stories of students teasing others, meeting and making friends with the opposite sex, helping each other during class tests, and running away from campus without permission, to mention but a few.

And as one would expect, not even the teachers are spared. The object of ridicule in this case is Mr. Manu, the Mathematics teacher, who mispronounces ‘s’ as ‘th’. In one of the class sessions, he tells his students: ‘Thith assethment will take one hour… I have a thtaff meeting, so I have to leave you. Pleath work quietly and independently.’ (p50)

Baitie’s The Twelfth Heart  is also very much about love and friendship, in that no matter how much the students tease or look down on one another, there clearly is an overriding mutual love hidden in their hearts .

Baitie is a relatively new voice on the Ghanaian literary scene, who fully deserves the recognition she has received for her writing so far. Prior to winning the Burt Award for The Twelfth Heart , Baitie received the Macmillan Writers Prize for Africa in 2006 for an earlier book, Saint in Brown Sandals .


23 Responses to The Twelfth Heart by Elizabeth – Irene Baitie

  1. Nina Chachu says:

    I think I really must read this story. Elizabeth-Irene Baitie is definitely one of the generation of new Ghanaian writers. Thanks for the inspiration!


  2. amymckie says:

    Glad to hear that you enjoyed this one so much – sounds like a worthy winner! Thanks for sharing your review.


  3. zibilee says:

    I am also glad that you found it to be a good read, and true to life. You wrote a really great review on it. Thanks for sharing it!


  4. winstonsdad says:

    this sounds like a good read and would like to read about african school experience ,see how it compares to ours in uk ,all the best stu


  5. Sylvanus Bedzrah says:

    And I must also confirm and add that, this book will bring natural tears into your eyes. The writer did justice to the story and I was not supprice that it won the first prize during the Burt Awards. Go get yours now and find out about the mistery and the missery of THE TWELTH HEART.


  6. […] The Twelfth Heart by Elizabeth – Irene Baitie and The Mystery of the Haunted House by Ruby Yayra Goka were the first and third place winners of the 2009 Burt Award respectively. […]


  7. Kinna says:

    I’m glad you liked the book. I will pick it up soon. I’m excited about her work. Thanks.


  8. am a literature student at ahantaman girls’ senior high and i think this book is so captivating and thrilling so am edging everyone of you to get a copy.


  9. Jane says:

    I was just given the book to read and couldn’t put it down…’s a must read book, teaching us to accept people for you do not the imapct or miracle they will bring in your life.


  10. This is the best the best book i have ever read in my fact i couldn’t hold my tears when i finished reading it.


  11. pearl nyarko-mensah says:

    I reall enjoyed reading this book. it brought back some memories of my stay in high school…Elizbeth-Irene Baitie, u really deserve the award. (Y)


  12. CHARLES says:



  13. Evelyn Agyepong says:

    Miss Baitie..I have read your book and honestly i shed tear…i love the Cathrine character…i would love to learn the words of the song she used to humm….and also i would like to noe what was in the letter she wrote to julliet


  14. […] Baitie is the author of The Twelfth Heart, a young adult novel, and a clinical biochemist. She’s fancy. I came across her on The […]


  15. kareem blessing says:

    the book is very interesting and it teaches morals to student going to the boarding schools


  16. Charles Adu says:

    this book is amazingggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggg
    well done


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