Unapologetically searing and catastrophically truthful, a reminder to readers that it demands much to meet harsh realities...

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 13, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-374-30563-5

Page Count: 336

Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux

Review Posted Online: March 19, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2017



Paulsen recalls personal experiences that he incorporated into Hatchet (1987) and its three sequels, from savage attacks by moose and mosquitoes to watching helplessly as a heart-attack victim dies. As usual, his real adventures are every bit as vivid and hair-raising as those in his fiction, and he relates them with relish—discoursing on “The Fine Art of Wilderness Nutrition,” for instance: “Something that you would never consider eating, something completely repulsive and ugly and disgusting, something so gross it would make you vomit just looking at it, becomes absolutely delicious if you’re starving.” Specific examples follow, to prove that he knows whereof he writes. The author adds incidents from his Iditarod races, describes how he made, then learned to hunt with, bow and arrow, then closes with methods of cooking outdoors sans pots or pans. It’s a patchwork, but an entertaining one, and as likely to win him new fans as to answer questions from his old ones. (Autobiography. 10-13)

Pub Date: Feb. 1, 2001

ISBN: 0-385-32650-5

Page Count: 150

Publisher: Delacorte

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2000


A delightfully captivating swatch of autobiography from the author of Kiss. Kiss, Switch Bitch and many others. Schoolboy Dahl wanted adventure. Classes bored him, there was work to be had in Africa, and war clouds loomed on the world's horizons. He finds himself with a trainee's job with Shell Oil of East Africa and winds up in what is now Tanzania. Then war comes in 1939 and Dahl's adventures truly begin. At the war's outbreak, Dahl volunteers for the RAF, signing on to be a fighter pilot. Wounded in the Libyan desert, he spends six months recuperating in a military hospital, then rejoins his unit in Greece, only to be driven back by the advancing Germans. On April 20, 1941, he goes head on against the Luftwaffe in the Battle of Athens. On-target bio installment with, one hopes, lots more of this engrossing life to come.

Pub Date: Oct. 1, 1986

ISBN: 0142413836

Page Count: 209

Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux

Review Posted Online: Oct. 16, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 1986

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