In Darkness, by Nick Lake – For Goodness Sake, Read this book.

2013-02-10 09.05.14Few books stick with me like this one did  — not surprising considering it is the 2013 Printz winner.

Fifteen-year-old Shorty, begins his tale immediately following the 2010 earthquake that devastated Haiti. Buried in the rubble of the hospital, recuperating from wounds he suffered in the ubiquitous gang violence that is Haiti, Shorty recounts the story of how he got there. In the darkness of his living tomb, he begins to hallucinate, and in his ravings, he begins to remember events in someone else’s life: that of Toussaint L’Overture, the legendary liberator of Haiti from French domination in the 18th century.

In chapters that alternate between “Then” and “Now”, Lake recounts the lives of both Shorty and Toussaint moving between the Republic’s hopeful birth in a slave revolt, to the tragedy that is modern Haiti. Lake vividly evokes the horror of events on the island by pulling no punches, laying bare the raw facts of the Toussaint’s life in slavery and the slave revolt, grounding the story in rich sensory details: the sticky heat, the smell of blood, the sound a machete makes when it severs a limb.  The reader cannot look away, as he reveals the face of a dying baby, the effect of bullets on the human body, and the mystery of Voodoo. In addition, Lake explores the precariousness of life, and the power of love.

This is not a book for the faint of heart, but although the violence, despair and pain spring genuinely from the story’s roots Lake offers hope, as well; hope grounded in the love of a mother for her son, a brother for his sister, friends for each other, and a leader for his nation. This book will leave you wrung out, but thankful for the truths it reveals.

Sexual material – S

Violence – VVV

Questionable Behavior -??

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