Seventeen wrenching accounts, most previously unpublished and either personal or based on interviews, from witnesses who as children or teenagers were caught up in wars or internecine violence.
From Marnie Mueller, born of non-Japanese parents in a Japanese-American internment camp during World War II, to three pseudonymous young refugees belonging to the savagely persecuted Chin minority who fled Burma in the mid-2000s, the subjects of these essays range widely in age and background. They have in common inner wounds that persist long after outer ones have healed or, at least, scarred over. Except for Fito Avitia, a resident of Juárez, Mexico, determined to stay put despite his city’s wild tides of crime and violence, displacement runs as a common thread through these narratives. It takes the form of either physical exile or, in the case of Phillip Cole Manor, who writes of his tour in Vietnam and Jerry Mathes’ portrait of his father, who came back from that war with PTSD, profound damage to senses of place and self. Explicit descriptions of atrocities make disturbing reading in some entries, though all are, in the end, uplifting tales of survival that offer a mix of (as the editor puts it) “loss, anger, fear, heartbreak and forgiveness.” A romantic encounter between a Serb and a Croat, and a Kabul youth’s memories of repeated encounters with a smitten “Talib in Love” even add lighter notes.
War’s most vulnerable victims, stepping up to have their say. (introductory and biographical notes) (Nonfiction. 16 & up)