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13 of 15 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A challenging, rewarding read, 19 Feb 2009
By 
A librarian writes... (Cardiff, South Glamorgan United Kingdom) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Guantanamo Boy (Paperback)
This is a coming of age story with a difference. Guantanamo Boy tells the story of Khalid, a young British teen who loves his mates, his computer games and is beginning to like girls. Khalid doesn't come of age with success on the football fields or with fumbles with the opposite sex but in a world of suspicion, terror and confusion. Retaining a simple, almost nave dignity we experience with Khalid the horror of how an innocent boy ends up in Guantanamo Bay. The novel starts, like Khalid, with a simple and straightforward innocence. As Khalid's story develops you gain an affection for him and as you become caught up in his world to the point where, as the story takes its dramatic and horrifying turn, you feel protective of him and ashamed that a civilised world can treat a child in the ways so powerfully described.

I found Guantanamo Boy to be a difficult and uncomfortable read but this is not say that it was not an utterly compelling read. Some of the passages describing his `interrogation' are challenging to read - you almost want to cry out to make it stop. It tackles head on the horrors of humanity by dealing with a very emotive and topical subject . I would encourage young teens and adults to read this book and be prepared to travel with Khalid to the very dark heart of the `war on terror'.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Guantanamo boy, 30 April 2014
This review is from: Guantanamo Boy (Kindle Edition)
i loved Guantamano boy. It was an extremely powerful and heart-wrenching book on the life of a boy in one of the toughest prisons.
I definitely recommend reading it. If you don't, you are missing out on one of the most amazing books ever to be published. The book also told me how much we take for granted-a chocolate bar to Khalid was heaven, but most of us eat them everyday without thinking about their taste and how good they are.

I salute you, Anna
Matthew, the kid you met in a cafe
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5.0 out of 5 stars A harrowing yet uplifting story., 6 Aug 2013
This review is from: Guantanamo Boy (Paperback)
I read this book in 2 days. It is a very powerful and harrowing read yet also very believable. The author takes you into the mind of 15 year old Khalid and his journey from Rochdale, where he lives as any normal teenager, with a love of football and friends to visiting his family in Pakistan where things go awry. After his arrest in Pakistan, which eventually results in his impoundment in Guantanamo Bay, his isolation, suffering and his hope is summed up brilliantly by the author.

I would recommend this book to be on the reading list of every secondary school as it covers current and relevant issues surrounding prejudice in our society.

This book highlights how we take the mundane and everyday things for granted. The vivid writing shows that even if we think all is lost the tiniest kind gesture will give us hope.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Interestingly written, 23 Nov 2012
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This review is from: Guantanamo Boy (Paperback)
I found this book surprising in many ways. When I read the blurb I thought it would be like any other book. I thought it would be a good read but just a book, not very believable, but I was pleasantly surprised. It begins with a teenager, Khalid Ahmed, whose life is fairly normal and you begin to get to know the character, how much he loves football and computer games, and find out about his slight reluctance to be around his family.

His reaction, therefore, when his mum tells him about the family holiday to Karachi, Pakistan to visit his dad's sisters, is not a good one. During the holiday he is kidnapped by a bunch of thugs and transported to several different places before finally ending up at Guantanamo Bay, and being unfairly interviewed at regular intervals.

I found the interviews quite hard to read sometimes because I could feel Khalid's stress at being asked the same questions over and over again and not being believed when he stated his innocence.

I found `Guantanamo Boy' a very interesting book, showing a boy's innocence in a time of war and paranoia. I could tell there was a lot of emotion put into writing it and I found I could easily empathise with Khalid as he went through the struggles of trying to show ignorant people that he has done nothing wrong. I would recommend it.
Ross MacFarlane 3S - Forres Academy
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5.0 out of 5 stars Thought provoking, 4 Jun 2012
This review is from: Guantanamo Boy (Paperback)
Challenges the every day "there's no smoke without fire" cliche that you hear muted so often. Based a true story it is a very compelling and saddening story that makes you question how far the war on terror should go and are we (UK/America a racist nation at heart? If you don't mind your values questioned, are looking for an informative read and don't want a happy, comfortable read then this is for you!
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4.0 out of 5 stars Innocence lost., 14 Feb 2012
This review is from: Guantanamo Boy (Paperback)
An unexpected subject for a teen read but an important one.
Khalid an unexceptional and naive teen is mad about; football, computer games, girls and hanging out with mates. Born to liberal hardworking Pakistani muslim parents he rarely even experiences conflicts between his lifestyle and religion.

This all changes when he visits Pakistan for a family holiday and finds himself kidnapped, imprisoned without charge and then sent to Guantanamo as a suspected terrorist.
The torture and horrors of Guantanamo are played down - this book is aimed at a teen market but the humilation, desolation and loneliness felt by Khalid cannot fail to shock and outrage the reader.

Once accused can you ever prove your innocence? It reminded me of the witch trials when just having the finger pointed at you was enough to condemn you.
There is a real sense of confusion and injustice throughout the book. Khalid and the reader spend much of the story wondering how it could happen and how without charge or communication with the outside world there can ever be justice.

It is a harrowing story that cannot fail to touch the reader and open their eyes. Khalid is an average adolescent inexplicably caught up in the atmosphere created by war, fear and revenge.
Ultimately it is not all doom and gloom though, there is hope and Khalid is a 'hero' who struggles against madness to survive, understand and inspire.

Thanks to NetGalley for sending this to me.
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5 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Outstanding, 21 Mar 2009
By 
SJSmith (UK) - See all my reviews
(TOP 1000 REVIEWER)   
This review is from: Guantanamo Boy (Paperback)
A very moving and inspirational read. Anna Perera pulls no punches with this highly emotive and descriptive teenager's novel. It isn't until you've read the novel that you can reflect on the serenity from the opening scene; the clash of images in the rest of the novel will unsettle most readers. It would be good if this appears either as a whole text or as extracts on future syllabuses across many departments in schools, it offers a wealth of information to explore.

I only know of Guantanamo Bay from what I see in the media and it was good to then read in The Times and The Guardian how Perara developed the concept for the novel. Acknowledging her main source, Perara admits not wanting to use detainees' stories as they are their stories to be told and not hers. This alone touched me but left me wondering how evocative her novel would then be; I didn't have to wonder for long; in my opinion she has been successful at becoming a 15 year old Muslim.

Khalid is like any other teenager until a family holiday to Pakistan. A holiday he didn't want to take and continually lets his family know this. I won't go in to how he is abducted or the actual circumstances but I really did feel Khalid's sense of confusion at the situation he was faced with. The narrative flows and I found it hard to put the novel down, in fact I didn't want to as I just wanted to keep on reading about Khalid's ordeal.

I think this book will haunt me for a long time and I will recommend it to everyone! I was reduced to tears towards the end, resulting in me needing a few moments of reflection once I'd reached the end. The novel is complete, I can't go into much more because I don't want to mention the outcome of the novel but I wasn't left with any questions. A very plain cover to the novel but equally an effective cover is sure to catch many readers' eyes on a shop's shelves and the added touch of orange on the end of the pages adds to the impact. A very clever novel, one that would be good to read with others as you are sure to have plenty to discuss.
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A brilliant, compassionate, disturbing book, 3 July 2010
By 
Ms. F. M. Stygall "CornflowerBlue" (Preston, Lancs, UK) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Guantanamo Boy (Paperback)
I am not usually very interested in realistic tales of hardship.

Reading through someone's struggle doesn't fascinate me, my misery memoirs reading started and ended with Dave Pelzer's 'A Boy Called It' trilogy.

I wasn't looking forward to reading this, but it's on the Lancashire Children's Book Award shortlist, so I read it for uni.

It scattered my expectations. Even now I keep being surprised at how it completely took me by surprise. Perera does a rare thing with this beautiful book, which I feel deserves a subtler, gentler cover.

Khalid, the protagonist, is drawn with love. He is a thoughtful, impulsive, likeable teenage boy; he cares about his dad, occasionally messes up at school, cheerfully admits to himself that he's rubbish at football. He struggles to unite his family's traditions with his settled, Western life, but no more than any teenager strains against the confines of their parents' expectations.

Khalid's experience of interrogation, isolation, and the withholding of basic human rights isn't immediately distressing. Perera has written with great skill and care here, making the book appropriate for younger readers, but not flinching from what Guantanamo is, and does. There were moments when I caught my breath: the men, ashamed of their nakedness, crying as they shower. Khalid screaming his cousin's name, poring over books for the release they give him. Dreaming of what he will do with his freedom; little dreams, but so distant for him.

Although it's undoubtedly going to teach most readers a lot about the horror of secret prisons and obtaining evidence by torture, Guantanamo Boy doesn't feel preachy. There's a wonderful lightness of touch, and a real generosity that makes Khalid a genuinely likeable young man. It was hard to move away from this book, and hard to accept that it is a work of fiction. Khalid's anger, his despair, his madness, are all perfectly written, and the sense of time wasted, of youth blown away, is achingly sad. Best of all are Khalid's clumsily eloquent words at the end, trying to describe two years of teenage life lost. A brilliant, difficult, thoughtful and incredibly skilled story
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A must read book for EVERYONE..., 7 Feb 2009
By 
G. Brewer (UK) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Guantanamo Boy (Paperback)
This book is fantastic from start to finish. If you don't finish this book crying then, well! Don't want to give much away but it has been written so well. I an adult have enjoyed this book aimed at "teens" and i think it's one that should be read by everyone. It's opened my mind...
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6 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Guantanamo Bay goes kicking and screaming into history!, 7 Feb 2009
By 
R. Thorns (Sussex, England.) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Guantanamo Boy (Paperback)
I had no idea that children were ever kept in Guantanamo Bay until I picked up this terrific first teen novel by Anna Perera, which had me really hooked from the word go.

`Guantanamo Boy' kicks off in Rochdale shortly after the 9/11 attacks, where fifteen year-old Khalid enjoys a typical kid's lifestyle; hanging about with his mates, fancying girls and booting a football about. Pretty soon, though, it becomes clear that while we can see a pretty normal upbringing going on, political, racial and religious tensions are on the rise.

A set of circumstances at home and abroad take Khalid and his family to Karachi, and it is shortly after that, that Khalid continues his journey alone - unintentially so - as a guest of the Americans, spending time in Kandahar before finally being dumped at the end of the line in Cuba, in its notorious prison.

What's going on in Guantanamo Bay is a real talking point at the moment, which is exactly the right sort of contemporary issue that any writer would go for, and Perera leaps into the fray to tackle it. I thought this book was exceptionally good because it can be read in so many different ways and on so many different levels. I was really interested in what was going to happen to Khalid and the way events were out of his control, just like any teenager feels events are out of his or her control, despite the sometimes aggravated bravado.

Of course, in the real Guantanamo Bay, there's not a lot going on AT ALL except routine, and that could have been a real problem for the author, as exciting pages would make for an exciting prison, whereas the whole point is to emphasise the mind-invading tedium, routine and despair of the place. The way Perera has got round this is by using a richness of prose that describes what is happening in Khalid's mind as it slowly unravels. As Khalid twiddles his thumbs, the boredom could be best summed up by blank pages but Perera flits from poetic prose that reminded me in a way of Elizabeth Smart; rich with scents, heat and the smell of the sea: "A tinkling sound like wind chimes starts up in the huge rolls of rusty wire reaching for the sky. Khalid gazes at the hot earth thinking, this place has wind chimes? How come?"

This kind of bleeds into a stream-of-(semi)consciousness style as Khalid hangs onto the tightrope of craziness over the next two years (at one time even imagining genies) and with his past memories of Rochdale haunting and tormenting him: "He'd just spotted the perfect semicircle of colour over the high branches and when he turns round, there - tipping backwards on the bench - is Niamh, with her hair in a twist on top of her head. She smiles up at him. Did she smile up at him? Now she does."

But it is here, ironically, that Khalid gains the most insight into matters he never thought of before in his meetings with inmates: when a hostile Khalid points out that stonings are done by Muslims he is gently told that: "Politics and culture must not be confused with religion... let us not forget, Khalid, that as we speak, men and women in America are being sentenced to death... Do you blame Christianity for this?"

By the end of the novel Khalid is older, wiser and infinitely sadder and more humble. Have no doubt about it; this is a gritty book. I read somewhere that Anna Perera is of both Irish and Sri Lankan parentage, which means she is probably pretty well-versed in political strife and religious baloney - and it shows in `Guantanamo Boy.' I really, really liked it and can very much recommend this book.
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Guantanamo Boy
Guantanamo Boy by Anna Perera (Paperback - 5 Feb 2009)
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