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25
4.6 out of 5 stars
Bite of the Mango
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
on 28 April 2011
This is a raw account of wickedness and brutality visited on a 12 year old girl and her cousins during the (un)civil war in Sierra Leone. How she was able to recover from this is hard to understand. All the more horrifying when we discover that the 'soldiers' who maimed her and killed and maimed many others in her village were 'child' soldiers. Similar age to herself, but fired by drugs and evil. Many years ago I crossed the land border from Zaire into Uganda during an overland journey and was very nervous not to catch the eye of any of the Ugandan boy-soldier border guards who searched our truck.

This account from Sierra Leone shows just how easily the shell of civilisation is shattered and people act out unimaginable wickedness against their follow men. The depths of depravity seem fathomless. That Mariatu survived all that was visited upon her is thanks to the intervention and help of strangers and her extended family.

The story is told in very simple language which makes it all the more vivid with one caveat. The North Americanisms with which it is peppered do not ring true. Phrases and metaphors used grate and detract from the simplicity of the story. I suppose some of this was inevitable as the co-author Susan McClelland is a Canadian journalist and so the story comes to us through two pairs of eyes. I just wish an editor had intervened to ensure that the authentic voice of Mariatu Kamara was more dominant throughout.
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11 of 12 people found the following review helpful
on 28 November 2009
I heard about this book on BBC Radio 4 when Mariatu was being interviewed. She sounded such a brave courageous person, that I had to buy the book. Once I started reading I was hooked. She tells the story of her life before and after the war with no hint of hatred. How can someone so young have such a wise head on her shoulders? I finished reading the book in 3 days and started it again. Bits of it had me in tears, sometimes with sadness, sometimes with her courage. But don't get me wrong, this is not a sloppy silly book. It is a book of courage and hope. This is one book that I will not be giving away, it will stay on my bookself as a reminder of a courageous young lady. Her cup is never half empty it is always half full.
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15 of 17 people found the following review helpful
VINE VOICEon 18 November 2009
In the story of this one brave woman we see the story of Africa and how the continent has been raped and exploited by the western powers. It isn't the boy soldiers who need to be brought to book but the arms dealers and arms manufacturers and the nations that support their continual production and sale. Africa needs plough shares not weaponry and Africa needs support in education, development and democracy, all anathema, of course, to the democratic countries pillaging the continent. This book tells the story of a young girl who escaped the horrors of Sierra Leone after having her hands cut off but her story is a metaphor for how all of us in the world are without hands when it comes to trying to reshape and replenish a dying Africa.
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on 10 January 2010
Bite of the Mango is a testimony of the ability of a young girl to not only survive a terrible ordeal, mutilation and rape but also to learn to live without hands; to eventually to be able to look forward and back without regrets (Pg 212); and to recover sufficiently to speak out for her people in Sierra Leone, and for all victims of conflict whose voices are not heard. The message contained in this book is one of faith, courage and forgiveness.

This is the book to read to gain an honest insight into, and an understanding of the suffering of innocent children in war-torn countries. Mariatu Kamara shows great strength of character as a victim of the civil war in Sierra Leone in the 1990s. This is her story (as told to the Canadian journalist Susan McClelland), starting with her peaceful family life as a child in a small rural village before the rebel attack. It includes details of that brutal and senseless attack, her escape into the bush and the man who holds a mango up to her mouth when she's sick and hungry (hence the book's title), her time spent in the refugee and amputee camps when she turned to begging on the streets of Freetown; and concludes with her eventual arrival in Canada where she lives with a `new' family and goes to school and then to college.

It is relevant that the foreword for this book is written by Ishmael Beah, also from Sierra Leone but who was on the rebel side. He was only five or six years old when he was taken from his family and coerced to join the rebels, illustrating that the rebel soldiers were themselves also victims.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 29 December 2011
Bite of the Mango is a harrowing, raw description of the terrible ordeal of a young girl, who has managed to make a new life for herself. It's hard to believe anyone can treat another human being in this way. It is a story you will find hard to forget. May Mariatu find happiness and success in the future.
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
on 20 December 2009
A tale of courage in the face of cruelty as only Africa knows how. An escape from drug crazed Sierra Leone rebels, minus ones hands, is a miracle of survival. To recover from that and to find a new life is a truly remarkable story and one that everyone should read.
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on 13 November 2010
Susan McClelland has done a good job in helping Mariatu (the central figure in the book) to tell her story very simply. Given the subject matter, I hesitated for about a year before deciding to read it. I shouldn't have waited. There is no self-pity in this book, and one is actually left feeling that Mariatu was comparatively lucky in having the chance to make a new life in Canada. Many others in a similar position did not fare so well after their ordeals. Mariatu is a compelling reminder to us all that it's essential to move forward in life and make the very best of what we have. Thanks for sharing your story, Mariatu.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 4 October 2010
Loved this book....can't belive someone so young went through so much.
I would definitely recomend this book, it makes you think how lucky you are!

Emma
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 4 January 2011
I could not put this book down!
Great read and it shows how strong and brave this girl is! I have now passed it on to my niece.

Buy it now!
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on 16 June 2012
Someone reccomended me the book and out of curiosity I bought it. Read the book in 2 days. However the story describes a devastating reality in Sierra Leone, it is written in a "matter of fact" way, from a positive lense, which makes it "lighter". I strongly recommend the book and I bet you will still think for days after you finish it, about the misfortunes of so many people and how much we take for granted having hands, light, food, health care...
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