A graphic format adds heart-rending images to McKay’s violent 2008 tale of children kidnapped and forced to become soldiers in Uganda.
The book opens with an awareness-raising letter to readers from teen protagonist Kitina Jacob and a brutal preview to set the stage. The tale then takes him and schoolmates Tony, Paul and Norman into a sudden nightmare when soldiers of the Lord’s Resistance Army burst into their dormitory. After weeks of forced marches, vicious beatings and atrocities designed to turn them into uncaring killers, the captives escape with help from mutilated campmate Hannah and others—profoundly scarred but, ultimately, resilient enough to take back their lives. Switching from white to black borders between his panels during the time of captivity to intensify the atmosphere of terror, Lafrance puts shadows or at least a little visual distance between viewers and violent acts. Wrenchingly, though, he ramps up the immediacy and emotional intensity by cutting again and again to the wide-eyed, tear-stained faces of children forced to do or to witness those acts.
Powerful storytelling based on documented experiences; despite being set in 2002, it’s as relevant as ever since the LRA is still all-too-active. (afterword) (Graphic historical fiction. 12-15)