A courageous biography by a woman from Sierra Leone who at 12 was tortured and lost her hands to child soldiers, her subsequent life in refugee camps, begging in Freetown and her eventual arrival in Toronto where she began to pull her life back together.
Now 21 years old, Mariatu Kamara will embark this year on a North American speaking tour as a UNICEF Special Representative for Children in Armed Conflicts. A documentary about her life is in development.
Susan McClelland is an award-winning journalist and recipient of the 2005 Amnesty International Media Award. She lives in Toronto.
A "must read" for teens. -- Denise Moore "HiRise" (09/01/2008) A story that older teens and adults won't be able to put down.--Robin Farrell Edmonds"Manhattan Mercury" (05/30/2010) [Mariatu's] narrative is honest, raw, and powerful....The book sheds light on a plight of which many people are still unaware.--Kelly McGamay, Glenbard South High School Library, Glen Ellyn, Illinois"Library Journal" (11/01/2008) A "must read" for teens.--Denise Moore"HiRise" (09/01/2008) Recommended for older teens, but adults won't be able to put the book down either.--Robin Farrell Edmunds"ForeWord" (11/02/2008) Horrifying and inspiring, [Kamara's] memoir tells an unforgettable story of courage, resilience and hope. Starred Selection 2009 [starred review] Relaying her experiences as a child in Sierra Leone during the 1990s, Kamara chillingly evokes the devastating effects of war. Mariatu is 11 when her tiny village is decimated by rebel soldiers, many of them children like her. Forced to watch as peaceful villagers are tortured and murdered, Mariatu is finally allowed to go free but only after boy soldiers cut off her hands: We want you to go to the president, they tell her, and show him what we did to you. You won't be able to vote for him now. Mariatu's long walk to get medical aid marks the first stage of a harrowing journey to build a new life for herself and other wartime victims; she now lives in Canada and is a UNICEF representative. Written with journalist McClelland, her story is deeply personal yet devoid of self-pity. As it aims to correct misperceptions about Sierra Leone and to raise awareness of the needs of child victims of war, this book will unsettle readers and then inspire them with the evidence of Mariatu's courage. Ages 14 up. [Best of 2008: Children's Books] A compelling, unmissable book. This haunting memoir adds an essential voice to the growing body of literature about Sierra Leone's civil war. Kamara's peaceful childhood ended in shocking violence when rebels arrived in her small rural village. During the devastating attack, child soldiers cut off 12-year-old Kamara's hands, but she managed to escape and carry herself to the relative safety of a town hospital. Kamara describes her first years after the attack, spent begging in the streets of Freetown and sleeping in refugee camps, and then her slow route to Toronto, where she currently attends college. Kamaras account, shaped by journalist McClelland, is made even more powerful by the plain, direct language that presents the horrifying facts without sensationalizing. Even more astonishing than the inconceivable crimes that Kamara endures is the strength, forgiveness, and hope that she discovers as she Starred Selection 2009 Starred Selection Despite the intense subject matter, the book is not overly graphic or gratuitous. It's recommended for older teens, but adults won't be able to put the book down either.--Robin Farrell Edmunds"ForeWord" (11/02/2008) Mauriatu Kamara is a college student in Toronto. She is also a UNICEF Special Representative for Children and Armed Conflict. When she was 11 years old in Sierra Leone, armed rebels brutally cut off her hands. In The Bite of the Mango, she tells the story of her life: one of survival, resilience, and relationships, also of her love for both Sierra Leone and Canada. A "must read" for teens.--Denise Moore"HiRise" (09/01/2008) Both harrowing and hopeful... [Mariatu's] narrative is honest, raw, and powerful....The book sheds light on a plight of which many people are still unaware.--Kelly McGamay, Glenbard South High School Library,"Library Journal" (11/01/2008) This is the story of the results of war as seen through a child's eyes and experiences and retold by the young woman who lived through it. Though the subject matter is intense in spots, the book is not overly graphic in gratuitous details and it's a story that older teens and adults won't be able to put down.--Robin Farrell Edmonds"Manhattan Mercury" (05/30/2010) This is an honest and true story told without glamour or artifice.--Merry Merryfield"Africa Access Review" (09/12/2014)