Friday, April 19, 2019

Let’s Go Swimming on Doomsday by Natalie C. Anderson - OPTIONAL

Let’s Go Swimming on Doomsday by Natalie C. Anderson, 447 pages. G. P. Putnam’s Sons, 2019. $19. 

Language: R (90 swears, 8 “f”); Mature Content: PG13; Violence: PG13;

BUYING ADVISORY:  HS - OPTIONAL

AUDIENCE APPEAL: AVERAGE

Abdi is a sixteen-year-old Somali boy whose home city, Mogadishu, has been torn apart by violence involving the militant group Al Shabaab. Abdi keeps his head down after his brother is kidnapped by the Al Shabaab until a few years later when Abdi’s entire family is abducted by the CIA and Abdi is manipulated into working as a spy in Al Shabaab in order to free his family. All Abdi wants is to save his family and to do the right thing, but he is subject to intense indoctrination and is used as a pawn in the plans of powerful men. Abdi ends up in Kenya alone, psychologically traumatized, and with two missing fingers. It takes a UN social worker and refugee girls like himself to help Abdi reveal the whole story of his time with the Al Shabaab and to help him begin to face his trauma and guilt.

Once I started this book, I couldn’t put it down. The story switches between two main time periods: “then” when Abdi is still in Somalia and “now” when Abdi is in Kenya. This switch was never confusing and only added to the mystery of his story. While it was obvious that Abdi somehow gets away from the Al Shabaab alive, the details were intriguing and kept me reading to find out exactly what happened and how he got out. Abdi’s character also felt like an accurate portrayal of someone who has been traumatized. While Abdi’s motives were good, he was a realistically fallible character. A highlight of the book was reading from Abdi’s perspective since his inner world felt authentic. My only complaint about the book was that the twist at the end before everything was resolved was too unbelievable. Everything else in the book felt realistic and intriguing and so the ending was a bit of a let down after an overall great read. The PG13 ratings were primarily due to the violent subject matter: the book is about terrorist violence, but it is not described in vivid detail. 

Reviewer: Marinda

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