The Door of No Return Book Poster Image

The Door of No Return



Lost African prince adventure/mystery with a unique premise.

What parents need to know

Educational value

History is woven into the story without feeling like a history lesson, yet it will give readers much to think about.  Some kids will want to research further based on the sheer amount of interesting and motivating information given.

Positive messages

This book is an adventure tale that gives a good message about endurance and justice. There are parts that look into the mindset behind slavery, and the right and wrong actions of people since it ended.

Positive role models

Zac is a terrific, heroic character. He is smart, interesting, and forward-thinking. His foster parents are also great role models. With so many unknown, adult bad guys chasing after Zac, it's nice to see a good example of loyal, caring grownups.


Punches, threats, choking, etc. Murder and fear of murder is described, though it isn't very graphic.

Not applicable

Some name-calling and a few swear words like "s--t," but nothing excessive.


A few mentions of name-brand items, including a Nokia cell phone.

Drinking, drugs, & smoking

References to adults drinking alcohol.

Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that this story revolves around slavery and the slave trade. There are some scenes that are intense, sad, and suspenseful, and there's a reasonable amount of danger, but the danger and intrigue are part of any good mystery/adventure novel, which this is.

What's the story?

Zac Baxter had always thought his grandfather's stories about his family being descendents of African kings and owners of lost gold as pure fairy tales, but when someone murders his grandfather and ransacks their home, he realizes there may be more truth in his grandfather's story than he realized. With unknown assailants chasing him and danger around every corner, Zac vows to track down the truth and the gold. Will he discover who he really is? What will it cost him? Who can he trust?

Is it any good?


This is a fantastic adventure story from new author Sarah Mussi. She has created a story rich in detail, intrigue, action, and history. Mussi's way of weaving the African slave trade into an adventure tale is refreshing; others authors have portrayed similar subject matter in a much more maudlin light, which is why this one feels so unique. Readers will love that Zac is a regular, black British teen thrust into a situation well over his head.

The story is rich, meaty, and great for confident readers, though even reluctant readers will enjoy this novel as long as they don't let the initial amount of detail and the book size scare them away. Parents will love the many avenues for discussion and the historical references throughout the work.

Families can talk about...

  • Families can talk about the importance of family history. Do you know your family's history? A great project for the whole family would be researching the family tree. Why is it important to know where you've come from? How would it feel not to know your family's history?

  • What did you learn from this book about the slave trade? Why would it be problematic if the descendents of African slaves chose and had a way to sue the governments of the countries that participated in the trade?

  • Which turns of the story surprised you the most? What part of the story was most dramatic?

Book details

Author:Sarah Mussi
Genre:Historical Fiction
Book type:Fiction
Publisher:Margaret K. McElderry
Publication date:August 26, 2008
Number of pages:400
Publisher's recommended age(s):12 - 17

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Teen, 13 years old Written byTooCute115 July 28, 2011


I am a thirteen year old junior. This summer I was told I had to do a reading response journal, I chose this book, and I could not put it down!! I loved it!!
What other families should know
Educational value
Great messages
Educator Written bytennisguy1847 October 3, 2009

Simply awesome

This was a fantastic book. it was filled with excitement and it was very intense. The plot twist at the end was awesome and i highly recommend this book
What other families should know
Too much violence
Educational value
Great messages
Great role models