Ten-year-old Aderito has been brought from the United States to the banks of a beautiful river in Homoine, Mozambique. There, he befriends a young girl named Victoria, and for a brief time, their childhood is promising. Soon, the violence that is raging across the country makes its way to Aderito’s doorstep, and both children are abducted by rebels and forced to learn the ways of trained killers in a war they barely understand.
With only each other for support, Victoria and Aderito struggle to remain unnoticed among their peers. But the more Aderito kills, the more he needs killing, channeling all his rage into war and becoming a valuable weapon. And Victoria, growing older and prettier by the day, begins to attract unwanted attention from their captors.
Caught in a battle that ravages villages and tears families apart, Aderito knows he cannot expect a happy ending. And yet he and Victoria make brave plans to escape—only to find themselves facing torments that no adult, let alone child, should ever have to face. As Mozambique struggles through its defining crisis, Aderito too must find a way to survive the childhood that will come to define him as a man.
This book was masterly crafted. Hartness takes you on an emotional roller coaster as Aderito loses himself and battles with his moral compass in an attempt to find the boy he once was. The book starts out peacefully--akin to The Poisonwood Bible, which drew me in. Aderito's initial turmoil of being taken out of America into a land he only knows as violent from stories around school was believable and honest. Unlike the Poisonwood Bible, we got to focus on the development of one person--Aderito--instead of jumping between four characters, which can become confusing. As I got this book from a giveaway, it's not one I would normally pick up if I saw it in a Library. But that's the thing about reviews. I am here to tell you to give this book a chance, because you'll absolutely love it.
Word of warning: there are some descriptive passages of violence. If this upsets you, please take a pass for your own happiness.