Jilel is the story of Molina, a young Marshallese girl who is confronted for the first time with the idea that her island—her beloved homeland—is vanishing because of the rising seas caused by world-wide global warming.
The most cherished person in Molina’s life is her grandmother, Bubu Titi. On her deathbed, as the old woman draws her last breaths, she bequeaths to Molina a Jilel, a gorgeous shell that has been in the family for centuries. The old woman’s last words implore the deeply saddened Molina to treasure and to protect the shell because of its immense power.
Heeding her Bubu Titi’s warning, Molina places the Jilel carefully in her closet. A few days later her rapscallion of an older brother Ketowate and his friend Samson find themselves in desperate need of cigarettes. Ketowate decides to search his house for spare change and comes upon the basket containing the Jilel. Not understanding its significance, Ketowate sells the shell to a local store.
The ancient heirloom immediately begins to resist being out of its rightful owner’s hands by turning off anything that draws power within its reach and thus the Jilel begins its long and twisted international journey. After everything in Ketowate’s life begins to go wrong, he realizes that somehow he must get the shell back for his sister, but his only hope in finding the Jilel rests with the powerful sorceress, Lijimu, whose reputation for evil and black magic in the Marshall Islands is unparalleled…