Twenty-two Cents

By Kirkus Reviews

Microbanks aren’t new, although they are gaining prominence. Here is the story of the first—or at least the formal first—and the one that gained the most notoriety. Muhammad Yunus grows up in the far-eastern part of India before Partition, in what is now Bangladesh. Although his father makes a decent living, Muhammad is exposed to poverty every day, from beggars at his door to the poor encampments he sees during his Boy Scout excursions. He graduates university, and each day as he walks to work, he passes a woman making stools from bamboo; she is obviously in dire financial straits. He stops to speak with her, to learn her circumstances. Yoo tells the story clearly and unflinchingly, though compassionately, explaining to readers the dreadful trap of the debt cycle. That is lesson No. 1 in this book: The debt cycle is a global plague. Yunus realizes that a simple monetary gift will not help the women out of poverty, but a tiny loan that brings her and other village women into entrepreneurship can. This is lesson No. 2 and what earns Yunus the Noble Peace Prize. Akib’s artwork is drawn in hot shades of pastel that are at once unforgiving and exhilarating. A heart-gladdening testament to pulling your own suspenders tight, with a little help from your friends.