War Child: Book summary and reviews of War Child by Emmanuel Jal

War Child

A Child Soldier's Story

by Emmanuel Jal

War Child by Emmanuel Jal X
War Child by Emmanuel Jal
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  • Published in USA  Feb 2009
    272 pages
    Genre: Biography/Memoir

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Book Summary

In the mid-1980s, Emmanuel Jal was a seven year old Sudanese boy, living in a small village with his parents, aunts, uncles, and siblings. But as Sudan’s civil war moved closer—with the Islamic government seizing tribal lands for water, oil, and other resources—Jal’s family moved again and again, seeking peace. Then, on one terrible day, Jal was separated from his mother, and later learned she had been killed; his father Simon rose to become a powerful commander in the Christian Sudanese Liberation Army, fighting for the freedom of Sudan. Soon, Jal was conscripted into that army, one of 10,000 child soldiers, and fought through two separate civil wars over nearly a decade.

But, remarkably, Jal survived, and his life began to change when he was adopted by a British aid worker. He began the journey that would lead him to change his name and to music: recording and releasing his own album, which produced the number one hip-hop single in Kenya, and from there went on to perform with Moby, Bono, Peter Gabriel, and other international music stars.  Shocking, inspiring, and finally hopeful, War Child is a memoir by a unique young man, who is determined to tell his story and in so doing bring peace to his homeland.

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Reviews

Media Reviews

"Disturbing and visceral...Jal tells his story in spare, direct, and searing prose that leaves nothing to the imagination and offers a close-up view of the damage done to the psyches of children turned into warriors." - Library Journal.

"[A] searing portrait of a war-torn youth turned community advocate and role model." - Kirkus Reviews

"Powerful...[an] intense personal story." - Booklist.

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Reader Reviews

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kayla

War Child
I had to read this book for a project in 10th grade and it is a very good but occasionally disturbing autobiography. It contains some graphic ideas, it is most definitely not suited for young children. But excluding that, this novel is very beautifully written

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Author Information

Emmanuel Jal

Emmanuel Jal lives in London. His music has been featured in the movie Blood Diamond, the documentary God Grew Tired of Us, and in three episodes of ER. He is a spokesman for Amnesty International and Oxfam, and has done work for Save the Children, UNICEF, World Food Programme, Christian Aid, and other charities, and has established his own charitable foundation, Gua Africa, to help former Sudanese child soldiers. He has been featured in Time Magazine, USA Today, the Washington Post, Newsweek.com, and on NPR, CNN, Fox, MTV, and the BBC. A documentary about Jal’s life, also called War Child, premiered to acclaim at the February 2008 Berlin Film Festival and the April 2008 Tribeca Film Festival. His first U.S. album War Child was released in May 2008.

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