Review: Son of a gun by Anne de Graaf

  • Title: Son of a Gun
  • Author: Anne de Graaf
  • Series: No – stand alone
  • Genre: War,
  • Available in the library: Yes

Son of a gun

First sentence:

I was crazy. Crazy mad. That’s how I felt when I turned in my AK-47 rifle.

Reviewed by Ms Powling, Library
This is a harsh and violent story about the involvement of children in the civil war in Liberia. Told in alternating accounts, it is the story of Nopi and her little brother Lucky. The two are taken from school by soldiers and forced to join their fight. As the story unfolds ( we “see” everything through the eyes of these two children) and covers the next eight years of their lives. Violence and uncertainty form a major part of their lives but Nopi, who was 10 at the beginning of the story, and Lucky survive their ordeal. The atrocities are handled well for a young audience. They are not overly graphic but enough to explain the horror of the situation. The children are amongst the lucky ones although Nopi has been left deaf due to a beating. They are jubilant at being united with their parents but are they permanently scarred by their experiences? There is no straightforward, happy-ever-after ending.
Although it is a fictional story it is based on factual accounts. The author, Anne De Graaf, bases her narrative on interviews with Liberian children. She provides historical, political, economic, and social information in the back in appendices with photos, maps, facts and figures. It also includes drawings and letters by young survivors of the civil war that give you some hope for the future.

What now?

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