SOLDIER BOY by Keely Hutton


Age Range: 13 - 18
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Spanning the conflict-laden years of Uganda’s recent history, this debut novel–meets-biography is based on the true story of a former enslaved child soldier who escaped and found his own salvation in providing sanctuary for children who suffered a similar fate.

Ricky Richard Anywar was abducted as a child soldier in 1989 to fight for the Lord’s Resistance Army, led by the infamous fugitive war criminal Joseph Kony, as continuing legacies of political corruption and economic instability set Uganda on a dark path to civil war. This powerful novel, which features scenes of sheer horror, does not depend on readers’ ability to decipher the overwhelming structural factors that have thrown Ricky’s Uganda into violent chaos. Rather, it is most significantly a story that stands up for the unrelenting power of the human spirit to reject evil, the nigh-impossible odds that must be conquered to escape enslavement, and the deep scars that remain for a lifetime. In 2006, Samuel, a composite character representative of the thousands of children helped by Anywar’s acclaimed Friends of Orphans charity, gives voice to this intimate process of recovery. Interleaved chapters tell Ricky’s story from 1989 to 1992. Through Ricky’s story, Samuel can find himself home again, before he was a rebel and a soldier, before he was a victim and an orphan, to the time when he “was a student and classmate. A cousin and friend. A brother and son.”

Unapologetically searing and catastrophically truthful, a reminder to readers that it demands much to meet harsh realities with impossible courage. (afterword) (Historical fiction. 13-18)

Pub Date: June 13th, 2017
ISBN: 978-0-374-30563-5
Page count: 336pp
Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1st, 2017