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Tuesday, February 5, 2013

The Bite of the Mango by Mariatu Kamara, Susan McClelland

The Bite of the Mango
"The astounding story of one girl's journey from war victim to UNICEF Special Representative."

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.

In this gripping and heartbreaking true story, Mariatu shares with readers the details of the brutal attack, its aftermath and her eventual arrival in Toronto. There she began to pull together the pieces of her broken life with courage, astonishing resilience and hope.
Summary & Photo taken from
Length: 216 pages (Paperback)
Available Formats: Print & E-book
Publication Date: September 12th 2008 by Annick Press
This was my third read of the year and for some reason it has taken until now for me to finally get around to reviewing it although I do have some suspicions as to why this is the case. I don't know about other book bloggers out there but when it comes to me writing a review for a work of non-fiction especially an autobiography or biography I find it difficult to pick apart a persons life and over the last 15 months of blogging I've learned that sometimes you have to look past that fact and only focus on the way the person's story is told.
When I discovered this book on a list I knew I had to read it. It fit into my 2013 Around the World Reading Challenge, it's an autobiography, and it was hailed as international best selling read. Now I'm not one that pays attention to best seller lists but given the subject matter I quickly wrote down the author's name and the book title and was on my merry way to my local library branch which luckily had it and started it as soon as I got home.
 Mariatu Kamara was a perfectly normal little girl until one day the war in her home country of Sierra Leone robs her of her hands which were brutally hacked off by a soldier when she was 12 years old which lead to her life never being the same again.
Despite the odds being stacked against her she rises above all her trials and tribulations including coming to terms with the molestation she faced not long before her attack and the subsequent pregnancy that followed and eventually the death of her first born son 9 months after he died and not long after she turned 14. Poverty, disease and fear were constants in her life but through relief efforts she was able to escape her homeland and make a life for her self here in Toronto, Canada.
Her story was told with so much heart, honesty and bravery I was left wondering how people can be so cruel to one another at times and yet at other times come forth with exemplary acts of kindness, love and selflessness. While her story was a tough one to read I think it is one that is a must read. It will break your heart and restore a bit of your faith in humanity afterwards a bit to know that there are people out there that are working to make the best out of a horrible situation.
Though it's hard for me to say that I enjoyed reading about Mariatu's journey so far I can say that I am very glad that I picked it up and read it. It's opened my eyes a little more to the things that take place in this world of ours that can be both harsh and beautiful at the same time. My one hope is that Mariatu comes forth with another book soon to update us on her journey since the publication of The Bite of the Mango. Mariatu is just one of many people who lived through these or similar circumstances and though she is an inspiration you can't forget the countless others like her out there struggling, waiting and fighting for a better day.
I would highly recommend this book to everyone and I do know that this is actually on some reading lists for schools already and that makes me happier than you can imagine. The first step towards moving forward is educating the younger generation. This book is written so that young adults can read it as well as grown ups. While I didn't give it the highest rating it was still extremely well worth the read.
Liked It!
★ ★ ★  1/2
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1 comment:

  1. I haven't heard of this book but it definitely sounds interesting. I find it hard to review biography/memoirs too, Kimberly. You have done a really good job at it.

    P.S. How big is your library? They seem to have all the books.


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