CITY BOY by Jan Michael


Age Range: 10 - 13
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An AIDS orphan in Malawi grapples with loss, loneliness and lowered expectations in this prize-winning author’s first American release. After his mother passes away from “The Disease,” Sam Sangala is sent to stay with relatives in a remote village upcountry. But Sam’s urban upbringing little prepares him for rural life; the days of Google, Game Boy and electric blue trainers are long gone. As he clings fiercely to the last vestiges of his former life, a lively ensemble of country folk—including his kindly Aunt Mercy, a wizened AIDS patient and a motorbike enthusiast—go the distance to teach Sam that family and friends are what really count. This is a powerful portrait of poverty and hardship, evenly balanced with shades of hope. Michael’s simple prose subtly layers detail, building full-bodied descriptions of landscapes and characters, leaving no room for shortcuts. “The Disease” is dealt with forthrightly, accurately representing its pervasiveness in southern African society, and depictions of Sam’s grief for his mother are brutally heartrending. A stoic tale of surviving life’s uncertainties. (Fiction. 10-13)

Pub Date: May 18th, 2009
ISBN: 978-0-547-22310-0
Page count: 192pp
Publisher: Clarion
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1st, 2009