Tuesday, April 17, 2012
Guantanamo Boy by Anna Perera
Guantanamo Boy by Anna Perera (Albert Whitman, 2011)
Summary from publisher:
He hasn't done anything wrong.
It was supposed to be just a trip to visit his mum's family in Pakistan. But for Khalid Amed, it was the beginning of a nightmare. He's kidnapped - then taken to a place thousands of miles from his home in the UK. A place where torture and terror are the daily routine. A place he may never be allowed to leave...
A place called Guantanamo Bay.
HOLY COW! This story packs a powerful punch. I've actually owned this book for over a year, and I would often pack it in my giant bag of books to read on road trips. I knew, however, that it would be a difficult book to read. I kept putting it off. Finally, I HAD to read it. I'm so glad I did. This is a story that grips you, takes you in, tears you apart, and then leaves your head spinning.
There's so much we weren't told about what was going on at Guantanamo Bay.
I had the opportunity to hear Perera speak last fall at the Anderson's Young Adult Literature conference. She talked at length about the research she did while writing the book, and the reason why she felt she HAD to tell Khalid's story. She takes the isolation, the water boarding, the sleep deprivation, and the other forms of torture the detainees at Guantanamo Bay endured and makes them impactful without falling victim to hyperbole or exaggeration. She helps you to see that it was amazing the children who were held there actually survived their treatment and makes you wonder how these boys will ever have normal lives.
Were there terrorists held at this prison? Of course. But there were also many innocent people, put there because of the bounty that was offered, who did nothing but be in the wrong place at the wrong time. When I finished, I was angry at the government who perpetrated and then prolonged the misery of this prison and then hid the truth from us.
So my book review turned into a political rant. Honestly, I don't know that I could have written this any other way. I'm sure my adult brain filtered this book differently than a teenaged brain would, but I think kids in middle and high school certainly would understand the War on Terror more than they currently do after reading this book. I hope that after reading it, they would think about the dangers of making assumptions about people and their motives just by the way they look or how they pray.