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Bite of the Mango Paperback – 2 Nov 2009
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'Powerful and timely ... in my culture, every story is told with the purpose of either imparting knowledge, reparing a broken bond, or transforming the listener and teller. Mariatu's story embodies all of these elements' Ishmael Beah, author of the Number One New York Times bestseller A Long Way Gone 'Deeply personal yet devoid of self-pity. As it aims to correct misperceptions about Sierra Leone and to raise awareness of the needs of child victims of war, this book will unsettle readers - and then inspire them with the evidence of Mariatu's courage' Publishers Weekly
About the Author
Now 23 years old, Mariatu Kamara has been named a UNICEF Special Representative for Children in Armed Conflicts; a Voices of Courage Honoree by the Women's Commission for Refugee Women and Children; and has established The Mariatu Foundation, which aims to offer much needed refuge to the ongoing victims of the civil war in Sierra Leone. A documentary about child victims of war, featuring Mariatu, is in development. She lives in Canada. Susan McClelland is an award-winning journalist and two-time recipient (2005, 2008) of the prestigious Amnesty International Canada Media Award for excellence in human rights reporting. She lives in Toronto.
Top customer reviews
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.
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.