Refugee, homeless, child soldier, spy: Abdi has been all these things and more to keep his family alive. Where can he go from here? Darting back and forth in time, this is a compelling story about a young man deciding whether to let himself drown or to kick back against the forces trying to keep him under the waves. Recommended By Madeline S., Powells.com
Synopses & Reviews
Forced to become a child soldier, a sixteen-year-old Somali refugee must confront his painful past in this haunting, thrilling tale of loss and redemption for fans of A Long Way Gone and What is the What.
When Abdi’s family is kidnapped, he’s forced to do the unthinkable: become a child soldier with the ruthless jihadi group Al Shabaab. In order to save the lives of those he loves, and earn their freedom, Abdi agrees to be embedded as a spy within the militia’s ranks and to send dispatches on their plans to the Americans. The jihadists trust Abdi immediately because his older brother, Dahir, is already one of them, protégé to General Idris, aka the Butcher. If Abdi’s duplicity is discovered, he will be killed.
For weeks, Abdi trains with them, witnessing atrocity after atrocity, becoming a monster himself, wondering if he’s even pretending anymore. He only escapes after he is forced into a suicide bomber’s vest, which still leaves him stumps where two of his fingers used to be and his brother near death. Eventually, he finds himself on the streets of Sangui City, Kenya, stealing what he can find to get by, sleeping nights in empty alleyways, wondering what’s become of the family that was stolen from him. But everything changes when Abdi’s picked up for a petty theft, which sets into motion a chain reaction that forces him to reckon with a past he’s been trying to forget.
In this riveting, unflinching tale of sacrifice and hope, critically-acclaimed author Natalie C. Anderson delivers another tour-de-force that will leave readers at the edge of their seats.
“[A] twisty-turny-chock-full-of-secrets, so exciting-you-have-to-force- yourself-to-take-breaks-and-breathe kind of novel.” The New York Times
“[I]n this fast-paced thriller…Anderson adeptly uses language to bring Tina’s world to life as she carefully traces her heroine’s history to reveal a shocking truth.” Publishers Weekly (starred review)
About the Author
Natalie C. Anderson is an American writer and international development professional living in Geneva, Switzerland. She has spent the last decade working with nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) and the United Nations on refugee relief and development, mainly in Africa. She was selected as the 2014-2015 Associates of the Boston Public Library Children’s Writer-in-Residence, where she wrote her debut novel, City of Saints & Thieves.