BookBrowse Reviews Say You're One of Them by Uwem Akpan

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Say You're One of Them

by Uwem Akpan

Say You're One of Them by Uwem Akpan X
Say You're One of Them by Uwem Akpan
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  • First Published:
    Jun 2008, 368 pages
    Paperback:
    Jul 2009, 384 pages

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Book Reviewed by:
Lucia Silva

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Stories that humanize the perils of poverty and violence with an immediacy rarely encountered (Oprah Book Club pick)

I got stumped last year trying to review this book. On the heels of Oprah's announcement that Say You're One of Them would be her next book club pick, I looked back on my abandoned draft. I see two paragraphs with an "x" marked through them, and written at the bottom: I'm afraid I don't have the right adjectives to review this book.

Unspeakable things happen to children in these stories, awful things we know are happening to actual children in the real world. It's hard to explain, then, why anyone should want to read them. The best I can come up with is that these stories aren't about the unspeakable things that happen, but how these children survive them. It's a small shift, but an important one, and it's the very thing that makes these stories beautiful and completely un-sensational. Without a trace of train-wreck fascination, manipulation, or maudlin plea, Uwem Akpen takes the reader by the hand, as kindly as a child would, inside the story. He captures the inimitable mind of the child - endlessly curious, hopeful, funny, and resourceful even through terror, trauma, violence, starvation… unfortunately, the list goes on. But at their core, these kids are just like any others, which makes the stories all the more heartbreaking.

Reviewed by Lucia Silva

This review is from the September 23, 2009 issue of BookBrowse Recommends. Click here to go to this issue.

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