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Soldier Boy
Cover of Soldier Boy
Soldier Boy
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An unforgettable novel based on the life of Ricky Richard Anywar, who at age fourteen was forced to fight as a soldier in the guerrilla army of notorious Ugandan warlord Joseph KonySoldier Boy begins...
An unforgettable novel based on the life of Ricky Richard Anywar, who at age fourteen was forced to fight as a soldier in the guerrilla army of notorious Ugandan warlord Joseph KonySoldier Boy begins...
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  • An unforgettable novel based on the life of Ricky Richard Anywar, who at age fourteen was forced to fight as a soldier in the guerrilla army of notorious Ugandan warlord Joseph Kony

    Soldier Boy begins with the story of Ricky Richard Anywar, abducted in 1989 to fight with Joseph Kony's rebel army in the Ugandan civil war (one of Africa's longest running conflicts). Ricky is trained, armed, and forced to fight government soldiers alongside his brutal kidnappers, but never stops dreaming of escape.

    The story continues twenty years later, with a fictionalized character named Samuel, a boy deathly afraid of trusting anyone ever again. Samuel is representative of the thousands of child soldiers Ricky eventually helped rehabilitate as founder of the internationally acclaimed charity Friends of Orphans.

    Working closely with Ricky himself, debut author Keely Hutton has written an eye-opening book about a boy's unbreakable spirit and indomitable courage in the face of unimaginable horror.

    This title has Common Core connections.

About the Author-

  • Keely Hutton is a novelist, educational journalist, and former teacher. She is the recipient of the Highlights Foundation Writers Workshop scholarship at Chautauqua. She has worked closely with Ricky Richard Anywar to tell his story in her first novel, Soldier Boy.

Reviews-

  • Publisher's Weekly

    Starred review from May 1, 2017
    In this brutal debut novel inspired by real-life events, Hutton addresses the horrors of the Ugandan civil war through two child soldiers. The narrative primarily follows Ricky Richard Anywar, kidnapped at age 14 and forcibly inducted into Joseph Kony’s Lord’s Resistance Army alongside his brother and friends in 1989. Over the next few years, Ricky survives horrifying conditions, brutal training, and numerous combat missions, always looking for a chance to escape. Meanwhile, in 2006, 11-year-old Samuel recuperates from grievous injuries after falling in battle, unable to trust his caregivers or the strange man who insists on learning his story. Both boys are forced to confront the memories of lost friends and the things they did to stay alive. Hutton approaches the setting, conflict, and characters with unremitting honesty, drawing from Anywar’s own life (he contributes an afterword) while using the fictional Samuel as a stand-in for the current generation of unwilling soldiers. This isn’t an easy or pleasant read—Hutton doesn’t shy from discussions of rape, torture, and abuse—but it’s eye-opening and relevant. Ages 13–up. Agent: Soumeya Bendimerad Roberts, HSG Agency.

  • Kirkus

    April 1, 2017
    Spanning the conflict-laden years of Uganda's recent history, this debut novel-meets-biography is based on the true story of a former enslaved child soldier who escaped and found his own salvation in providing sanctuary for children who suffered a similar fate. Ricky Richard Anywar was abducted as a child soldier in 1989 to fight for the Lord's Resistance Army, led by the infamous fugitive war criminal Joseph Kony, as continuing legacies of political corruption and economic instability set Uganda on a dark path to civil war. This powerful novel, which features scenes of sheer horror, does not depend on readers' ability to decipher the overwhelming structural factors that have thrown Ricky's Uganda into violent chaos. Rather, it is most significantly a story that stands up for the unrelenting power of the human spirit to reject evil, the nigh-impossible odds that must be conquered to escape enslavement, and the deep scars that remain for a lifetime. In 2006, Samuel, a composite character representative of the thousands of children helped by Anywar's acclaimed Friends of Orphans charity, gives voice to this intimate process of recovery. Interleaved chapters tell Ricky's story from 1989 to 1992. Through Ricky's story, Samuel can find himself home again, before he was a rebel and a soldier, before he was a victim and an orphan, to the time when he "was a student and classmate. A cousin and friend. A brother and son." Unapologetically searing and catastrophically truthful, a reminder to readers that it demands much to meet harsh realities with impossible courage. (afterword) (Historical fiction. 13-18)

    COPYRIGHT(2017) Kirkus Reviews, ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.

  • School Library Journal

    June 1, 2017

    Gr 9 Up-A compelling tale that recounts the story of former, real-life Ugandan child soldier Ricky Richard Anywar. Told in alternating chapters that focus on Ricky's past and the present-day story of Samuel, this brutally honest novel will have readers struggling to move through the often gruesome initiation of kidnapped children into the Lord's Resistance Army (LRA). Ricky is consumed by fear and desperation as he attempts to escape from the LRA with his older brother. Samuel's narration is permeated with distrust and alarm as he figures out how to deal with a severe injury and his placement in a rehabilitation program. This book is filled with many instances of graphic violence. Hutton's intense accounts of families burned alive and machete attacks on villagers emphasize the emotional anguish. While the subject matter is mature, the story is accessible and addresses topics such as world history, civil war, and shifting political powers. A description of the Friends of Orphans program ends this work with a message of hope. Readers may liken this title to memoirs such as Ishmael Beah's A Long Way Gone: Memoirs of a Boy Soldier. An author's note explains that Hutton spent a considerable amount of time with Anywar and read through several interviews with other survivors to craft accurate depictions of life as a child soldier. VERDICT A must-purchase for teen collections, with the understanding that this text portrays traumatic childhood violence associated with civil war.-Monica Cabarcas, Albemarle High School, Charlottesville, VA

    Copyright 2017 School Library Journal, LLC Used with permission.

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    Farrar, Straus and Giroux (BYR)
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