Monday, April 28, 2014
Illustrator: Daniel LaFrance
Info: Annick Press, copyright 2013, 176 pages
#HubChallenge Best Graphic Novels
A review in 10 words (or thereabouts): There is fear in the hearts of the children of Uganda and hope in the darkness that freedom is possible.
This is the graphic novel edition of Sharon McKay's novel set in Uganda, where Joseph Kony’s Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) has, since 1987, abducted up to 30,000 children from their villages and homes for use as soldiers and slaves. It is in these nightmarish times that the fates of 5 boys and a girl are entwined. Captured from their school by the LRA, the boys wait for rescue only to discover that if they are to survive they must rely on themselves. But friendship, courage, and resilience might not be enough to save them. Based in part upon interviews with child soldiers in Northern Uganda, War Brothers is a stunning depiction of the human cost of wars fought by children.
I've heard stories of Joseph Kony and the Invisible Children. I've seen movies that show the horrors of young boys and girls wielding guns and spouting hatred. And it's unbelievably horribly. Sharon McKay brings a new face to the story. She brings a hope that you don't usually see in newscasts. In War Brothers, a school is invaded by LRA soldiers and the students are taken captive. It's immediately obvious that the soldiers know how to manipulate and intimidate, seeking out the weakest and breaking them until there is blood on their hands. One boy resists. He remains determined and steadfast, protecting friendships and believing that freedom will come one day.
For many it doesn't, and the consequences are deadly. But for the few that do, a new war stands in their way. A war of guilt and disgrace. That's what McKay does best. She shows the fear that these free children face and the persecution against them for circumstances beyond their control.
It's a terrible story, but a beautifully made graphic novel. The artwork is impressive and the personal letters at the beginning and end of the story put a human face on the story itself.
A must read that definitely deserves a spot on the YALSA list of great graphic novels.