Sunday, 16 December 2012

Bitter Chocolate


Bitter Chocolate by Sally Grindley (Bloomsbury)
PB RRP $15.99
ISBN 9780747595021
Reviewed by Anastasia Gonis

The Sierra Leone and Liberian war breaks out. Children are the main victims. Ten year old Pascal is one of them. Life as he knew it collapses after the rebels attack his village killing his father. He is forced to flee for his life.

The story is woven into non-sequential chapters which reflect the flashes of Pascal’s fragmented memories. He is drugged by his captors after being abducted in the forest. His metamorphoses into a boy soldier that kills on command follows. His tormented memories alternate between this terror, and the time he spent with a large group of boys on the cocoa plantations. There they were all subjected to physical and emotional abuse, deprivation, and inhuman conditions.

 When dreaming of these horrors, Pascal holds onto one glowing light through all the misery. His longing to one day be reunited with his remaining family members.

This heartbreaking story addresses the tragedy of children of war, and the powerful role of hope.  It is suitable for the 12+ age group.

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