“…this is a searing, graphically charged novel, told alternately by Nopi and Lucky, with several historical and pivotal stories incorporated into the narrative.” —Keisha M. Miller, School Library Journal
I was crazy. Crazy mad. That’s how I felt when I turned in my AK-47 rifle. The commanding officer’s growl still haunts me: “This gun is your god. You listen to the voice of your god and go where your gun tells you.”
This powerful and gripping story describes the journey of a brother and sister, eight-year-old Lucky and ten-year- old Nopi, who are kidnapped from school and forced to become child soldiers in Liberia’s fourteen-year-long civil war.
Lucky and Nopi manage to escape, but must continue fleeing. Even after they are reunited with their parents, they both know the pieces of their lives will never fit together like they used to. When will the war really be over, and when will they get to have the childhood they still dream about?
This sensitive and compelling narrative is based on true stories of former child soldiers interviewed by the author.
Reviews & Accolades
“...this is a searing, graphically charged novel, told alternately by Nopi and Lucky, with several historical and pivotal stories incorporated into the narrative. Readers can take a deep breath when they learn that these children aren’t soldiers forever. Local people are credited for the illustrations provided in the back of the book, along with facts and figures about Liberia. The Disarmament Demobilization Reintegration Resocialization (DDRR) program offered by the UN allows former combatants to turn in their weapons for money, therapy, and an education or vocational opportunity.” —Keisha M. Miller, School Library Journal
“Despite the flip title, a harsh picture of civil war in Liberia as seen through the eyes of two children. Marked by sudden violence and a pervasive sense of uncertainty, the alternating accounts of Nopi, 10 at the beginning, and her little brother Lucky, take both children through eight years of brutal treatment as the two are snatched out of school by soldiers and forced to fight…De Graaf bases her episodic, present-tense narratives on interviews with Liberian children and adds an informational appendix with photos that not only lays out Liberia’s troubled history (up to 2006, when the original Dutch edition of the book was published) but also includes upbeat drawings and letters from young survivors. “I wonder if there’s a place for my story in your world,” writes Nopi. Stories like this at least help to ensure that there are.” —Kirkus Reviews
Child soldiers, survival, warfare, loss of childhood, child abuse
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