MS Grades 6-8
Son of a Gun by Anne de Graaf tells the story of two children, Lucky and Nopi, living in Liberia. Lucky is eight years old and his sister, Nopi, is ten. While they’re in school one day, they are kidnapped along with many other children and forced to become child soldiers in Liberia’s civil war, a war that would last 14 years. These children are given AK-47 rifles and told, “This gun is your god. You listen to the voice of your god and go where your gun tells you.” Lucky and Nopi escape, but must continue searching for their family. Once they are reunited with their family, they still have to live with the memories of the horrors they saw and experienced. A great number of children are not so fortunate. Some that survive have lost their families and homes. Others decide that a soldier’s life is the only one they know.
This book is based on true stories of former child soldiers interviewed by the author. It is told from the viewpoints of Lucky and Nopi. It is a very well-written but heartbreaking tale. It doesn’t go into any graphic details, but does adequately describe the pain and suffering of the child soldiers. Unfortunately, there are many other children like Lucky and Nopi. They were robbed of their childhoods and forced into unimaginable situations. The United Nations convinced a lot of the children to turn their guns in for money. However, this was a hard decision for many because their commanding officer had convinced them to never part with their guns, as their guns were their god. The book also includes a section of notes and additional information about Liberia.
Trina Chase, CLJ
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