Friday, March 2, 2018

Soldier Boy by Keely Hutton - ADVISABLE

Hutton, Keely Soldier Boy, 326 pages. Farrar Straus Giroux, 2017. $18. Content: Language: G; Mature Content: G; Violence: R. 

Fourteen year old Ricky lives on his family’s plantation in Northern Uganda when he hears sounds coming from his local village.  Ricky, his brother Patrick, and some of their friends decide to go and sit at the edge of their property along the road to see if they can find any news as to what is happening.  A man comes along and seems friendly enough, but then is quickly joined by other rough looking men.  In an instant, Ricky’s family is murdered and the friends are tied together soon to become child soldiers for Joseph Kony’s rebel army in 1989.  Woven throughout Ricky’s story, is a young boy named Samuel, who in 2006 after being left for dead on a battlefield is protected by the Friends of Orphans.  

This is a heart wrenching read.  I couldn’t put it down, but I didn’t want to pick it up either.  I had to know what happened to Ricky and his brother Patrick, but the life of a child soldier was so brutal and upsetting it’s hard to read.  This is based on the true story of a child soldier named Ricky Richard Anywar during the Ugandan Civil War.  Although the violence is not gratuitous or gruesome, it is upsetting.  There are many deaths, often of children, and they are common and torturous.  Whole families are rounded up and burned and there is mention of girls getting raped.  This is one boy’s true story from an event that happened to many teens in Northern Uganda, it’s harrowing and real and although there is a lot of violence, it’s still advisable for high school.  

HS – ADVISABLE.  Reviewer, C. Peterson.

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