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The Bite of the Mango
Cover of The Bite of the Mango
The Bite of the Mango
As a child in a small rural village in Sierra Leone, Mariatu Kamara lived peacefully surrounded by family and friends. Rumors of rebel attacks were no more than a distant worry. But when 12-year-old Mariatu set out for a neighboring village, she never arrived. Heavily armed rebel soldiers, many no older than children themselves, attacked and tortured Mariatu. During this brutal act of senseless violence they cut off both her hands. Stumbling through the countryside, Mariatu miraculously survived. The sweet taste of a mango, her first food after the attack, reaffirmed her desire to live, but the challenge of clutching the fruit in her bloodied arms reinforced the grim new reality that stood before her. With no parents or living adult to support her and living in a refugee camp, she turned to begging in the streets of Freetown. As told to her by Mariatu, journalist Susan McClelland has written the heartbreaking true story of the brutal attack, its aftermath and Mariatu's eventual arrival in Toronto where she began to pull together the pieces of her broken life with courage, astonishing resilience and hope.
As a child in a small rural village in Sierra Leone, Mariatu Kamara lived peacefully surrounded by family and friends. Rumors of rebel attacks were no more than a distant worry. But when 12-year-old Mariatu set out for a neighboring village, she never arrived. Heavily armed rebel soldiers, many no older than children themselves, attacked and tortured Mariatu. During this brutal act of senseless violence they cut off both her hands. Stumbling through the countryside, Mariatu miraculously survived. The sweet taste of a mango, her first food after the attack, reaffirmed her desire to live, but the challenge of clutching the fruit in her bloodied arms reinforced the grim new reality that stood before her. With no parents or living adult to support her and living in a refugee camp, she turned to begging in the streets of Freetown. As told to her by Mariatu, journalist Susan McClelland has written the heartbreaking true story of the brutal attack, its aftermath and Mariatu's eventual arrival in Toronto where she began to pull together the pieces of her broken life with courage, astonishing resilience and hope.
Available formats-
  • OverDrive Read
Languages:-
Copies-
  • Available:
    0
  • Library copies:
    1
Levels-
  • ATOS:
    5.5
  • Lexile:
    800
  • Interest Level:
    UG
  • Text Difficulty:
    3 - 4

Recommended for you

About the Author-
  • Now 22 years old, Mariatu Kamara has been named a UNICEF Special Representative for Children in Armed Conflict; 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 the works.
Reviews-
  • Publisher's Weekly

    Starred review from November 17, 2008
    Relaying her experiences as a child in Sierra Leone during the 1990s, Kamara chillingly evokes the devastating effects of war. Mariatu is 11 when her tiny village is decimated by rebel soldiers, many of them children like her. Forced to watch as peaceful villagers are tortured and murdered, Mariatu is finally allowed to go free—but only after boy soldiers cut off her hands: “We want you to go to the president,” they tell her, “and show him what we did to you. You won’t be able to vote for him now.” Mariatu’s long walk to get medical aid marks the first stage of a harrowing journey to build a new life for herself and other wartime victims; she now lives in Canada and is a UNICEF representative. Written with journalist McClelland, her story is 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. Ages 14–up.

  • School Library Journal

    Starred review from November 1, 2008
    Gr 9 Up-Kamara's account of the atrocities she suffered at the hands of rebel soldiers in Sierra Leone is both harrowing and hopeful. The young woman had a typical childhood in her small rural village until she came face to face with rebels bent on destroying everything in their path. After bearing witness to the torture and murder of several townspeople, one soldier chopped off both of her hands with a machete and left her for dead. Summoning all of her courage, she found her way to a nearby hospital where she was reunited with her surviving family members. There, the 12-year-old discovered she was pregnant and was reduced to begging in the streets to keep herself and her son alive. When journalists arrived to document the horrors of life in her country, Kamara was understandably wary. However, being featured in their stories led to benefactors wanting to find a way to take her to a country where she could heal mentally and physically. After landing in Canada, Kamara found a home and a surrogate family who encouraged her not only to obtain an education, but also to share her story with the world. Her narrative is honest, raw, and powerful. In the same vein as Ishmael Beah's "A Long Way Gone: Memoirs of a Boy Soldier" (Farrar, 2007), the book sheds light on a plight of which many people are still unaware."Kelly McGorray, Glenbard South High School Library, Glen Ellyn, IL"

    Copyright 2008 School Library Journal, LLC Used with permission.

  • Booklist

    January 1, 2009
    Grades 9-12 This haunting memoir adds an essential voice to the growing body of literature about Sierra Leones civil war. Kamaras peaceful childhood ended in shocking violence when rebels arrived in her small rural village. During the devastating attack, child soldiers cut off 12-year-old Kamaras hands, but she managed to escape and carry herself to the relative safety of a town hospital. Kamara describes her first years after the attack, spent begging in the streets of Freetown and sleeping in refugee camps, and then her slow route to Toronto, where she currently attends college. Kamaras account, shaped by journalist McClelland, is made even more powerful by the plain, direct language that presents the horrifying facts without sensationalizing. Even more astonishing than the inconceivable crimes that Kamara endures is the strength, forgiveness, and hope that she discovers as she heals. Suggest this as a companion to Child, Victim, Soldier: The Loss of Innocence in Uganda (2008) by Donald H. Dunson.(Reprinted with permission of Booklist, copyright 2009, American Library Association.)

  • Kirkus, starred review, 10/08 "... a powerful commentary on one of the many costs of wars. An essential purchase ..."
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  • Publisher
    Annick Press
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