War Child

Book: War Child by Emmanuel Jal

Book Info: Published by St. Martin’s Press; 272 pages; hardcover; borrowed from the library

Goodreads Summary: In the mid-1980s, Emmanuel Jal was a seven year old Sudanese boy, living in a small village with his parents, aunts, uncles, and siblings. But as Sudan’s civil war moved closer—with the Islamic government seizing tribal lands for water, oil, and other resources—Jal’s family moved again and again, seeking peace. Then, on one terrible day, Jal was separated from his mother, and later learned she had been killed; his father Simon rose to become a powerful commander in the Christian Sudanese Liberation Army, fighting for the freedom of Sudan. Soon, Jal was conscripted into that army, one of 10,000 child soldiers, and fought through two separate civil wars over nearly a decade. 
But, remarkably, Jal survived, and his life began to change when he was adopted by a British aid worker. He began the journey that would lead him to change his name and to music: recording and releasing his own album, which produced the number one hip-hop single in Kenya, and from there went on to perform with Moby, Bono, Peter Gabriel, and other international music stars. 
Shocking, inspiring, and finally hopeful, War Child is a memoir by a unique young man, who is determined to tell his story and in so doing bring peace to his homeland.

This was interesting.  I’ve heard of the Lost Boys, but other than hearing the name, I didn’t know anything about them.

I liked seeing what things were like for him, and how his life was changed because of what he’s been through.  I can’t even begin to imagine what things were like for him…betrayal, being forced to fight, and starvation don’t seem to cover half of what being a child soldier entailed.  It was inspiring to see him go from child soldier to being a successful singer.

I’m glad I read it, because you see that while it’s possible to move on, one can never truly recover from something so horrific.

I liked it, but it’s more about what his own experience was like.  You don’t get an overview of what happened or anything, but I would like to learn more about what lead to the civil wars in Sudan.  While it’s a linear story, it felt a little disjointed.  It was linear, but it didn’t feel linear- if that makes any sense.

I give it a 3 out of 5.  It’s interesting, but I felt a little disconnected from the story.

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