Saturday, November 14, 2015

Book Review: "The Bite of the Mango" by Mariatu Kamara

I discovered this memoir while reading The End of Your Life Book Club by Will Schwalbe, which I had read for a book club.  Mariatu shares her story as a young girl caught in the civil war of her Sierra Leone village.  The rebels attacked her village, burned most of it to the ground, killed many but let her live.  They just hacked off her hands first.  She was twelve.

Mariatu's story is horrifying, honest, and inspiring.  When I had told the other members of the book club that I was going to read this - they were shocked.  Why would I want to read something that would undoubtedly be difficult emotionally?  But that is exactly why.  I felt that I didn't know nearly enough about that part of the world and this was one way to access that personal truth of one who lived through the war there.  I knew that it was going to be a hard read, so in a way I was prepared for that.  So, I had to read it.

And it is difficult to read the horrors that Mariatu lived through, but I also thought it was going to be more so.  Maybe I overprepared myself, but I wonder if there was a bit of detachment there in the narrative.  This is written for a young teen audience too, so that be what I was picking up on as well.  Given the intended audience, this is also a fairly short (too short?) and fast paced book.

In the end, I am glad to know Mariatu's story.  It does give me some understanding as to the way of life in that part of Africa and the experience of the terrible civil war there.  I need to read more, of course, but I feel like this was a good place to start.

The Bite of the Mango
by Mariatu Kamara
Annick Press, 2008
216 pages
Source:  Library


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