23 August, 2011

Guantanamo Boy - Review

Guantanamo Boy by Anna Perera
Publication date: 5 February 2009 by Puffin
ISBN 10/13: 0141326077   |   9780141326078

Category: Young Adult Realistic Fiction
Keywords: Kidnapping, 9-11, fear, paranoia, torture, Diversity Reading Challenge
Format: Hardcover

Kimberly's Review: 

Khalid was in the wrong place at the wrong time. He is a Muslim boy from England who is kidnapped and dragged to Guantanamo Bay. With no one to help him, and his family not knowing where he is, Khalid faces torture, mental and physical as images of his life flash before his eyes. And he holds onto the one thing they cannot take away from him. Hope.

Khalid is a great character. He's a teenage boy who thinks about soccer and girls. Having grown up in England, he is Westernized and cannot comprehend why he is being dragged away from his family, or why no one believes him when he tells them who he is--a 15 year old boy who was visiting family.

Perera uses a lot of strong imagery; you can't help but feel Khalid's confusion and misery. Who betrayed him? A stranger? A family member? Khalid has plenty of time to think about these things while he suffers in prison for days that go on and on...

This was a very hard book for me to read. While I think the story is interesting and the ideas are sound, the book was a bit too long and drawn out. (Khalid didn't arrive at Guantanamo until half way through the book.) Plenty of bad things happen before Guantanamo, but by the time he reaches the prison, Khalid has already been through really horrible stuff, so Guantanamo didn't seem to be as jarring or offensive as I'm sure it was meant to be. 

The darker days were offset by the beautiful memories of Khalid's life before the kidnapping. His memories are strong and they give him hope to keep going. But he's only 15, and there's only so much he can handle. Teetering on the brink of madness, Khalid loses all sense of childhood and security so quickly I forgot I was reading about a 15-year-old boy. The only thing that reminded me was his persistent screams of his age towards his captors.

I think it was important to read it, but I can't admit to liking the book. It's a very powerful story and the graphic images of torture, including water boarding are very real. The most horrific and sad part was in the author's note which states Khalid's journey was not uncommon occurrence--teens were brought to Guantanamo Bay. And that the prison still houses a little less than 200 prisoners today, two years after President Obama announced its closure.

Visit the author online at www.annaperera.com and follow @annaperera1 on Twitter.

Find more reviews by kimberlybuggie at www.thewindypages.com, and find out more about the Diversity Reading Challenge at www.diversityinya.com.

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