Monday 2 February 2015

War Brothers

War Brothers by Sharon E. McKay, art by Daniel Lafrance (Walker Books)
PB RRP $19.95
ISBN 9781406358377
Reviewed by Anastasia Gonis

Anything involving hurting children in any way always shatters me. This confronting graphic novel was painful to read. It will affect many readers the same way, but it is something we must all know about. The telling took tremendous courage.

All begins in Gulu, Uganda, 2002. Kony Joseph leads the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA). He’ a man who manipulates the word of God to his advantage, uses it to justify his horrendous actions, and calls it the true Christian way.

‘My country knows this man simply as Kony, the leader of an army of abducted children’, fourteen year-old Jacob of the Acholi tribe writes in the retelling of true events.

He writes about the boys and girls abducted from their villages, families and schools, and forcefully recruited into a child army. They are ordered to kill or be killed themselves. Their lives become ‘full of unthinkable violence and brutal death.’ The fate of the girls is equally unbelievable. Some are maimed. Others are forced to breed children fathered by the commanders, considered pure, to be future rulers of Acholiland.

This heart-rending novel is also ‘a story about hope, courage, friendship and family.’ It takes all of these and more, to attempt escape and face possible death at every movement; every sound.

The text is supported by magnificent art that magnifies each word and action a thousand times. It engages all the senses and emotions and the reader will physically feel the children’s suffering.

This book was hard to finish and harder to write about. It contains extreme violence therefore discretion should be used when choosing the readership, regardless of it being directed at the 14+ age group.

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