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