review by Sylvie Bower, age 16
Soldier Boy by Keely Hutton
Soldier Boy tells the stories of Samuel and Ricky, both a part of the Lord’s Resistance Army in Uganda, though their stories take place seventeen years apart. Ricky’s story is true, based off of the experiences of Ricky Richard Anywar, who was abducted in 1989 and trained to fight against government troops for two and a half years before escaping. Samuel is fictional, but he represents the stories of real-life child soldiers who escape the LRA and are rehabilitated by organizations like the one Ricky started.
Before I started this book, I was wary, as I don’t normally read or enjoy nonfiction. If that’s you, don’t worry – this book does not read like any nonfiction book that I’ve ever read before, as it pulls you in and makes a horrifying, real event into a gripping story. It’s hard to think that anything that occurs in the novel is true, and that makes it that much more powerful, especially since you’re guaranteed to become attached to the two boys and the people who surround them. I really enjoyed how the book centered around Ricky and Samuel, as they had many similarities, such as the fact that they were both abducted into the LRA, but their stories take place in different times and stages. Through Ricky’s perspective, you get a glimpse of the brutality of being an enslaved child soldier, and the acts of violence children both endure and inflict in order to stay alive. Samuel’s story gives you the experience of those who escape from the LRA and other child soldier armies, but also shows that even the darkest times can inspire people to do good, as you see the outcome of Ricky’s story.
I had never heard of the Ugandan Civil War, let alone the LRA before I started this book, and so in addition to drawing me in with its characters, I also benefited from exposure to something that previously wasn’t something I was aware of, which is what I love about reading. In this case, Soldier Boy opened my eyes to a war that has torn Uganda and its people apart for the past thirty years.
Although I wouldn’t have picked it up myself, Soldier Boy was easily a 4 star read for me, as I thoroughly enjoyed its writing style and was enthralled with reading the stories of two child soldiers, which I’ve never seen before in YA.
Find this book in our catalog: Soldier Boy
Call Number: YA FIC HUTTON,K