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Say You're One Of Them

by Uwem Akpan
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Product Details

  • Publisher: Little, Brown and Company
  • Publishing date: 18/09/2009
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-13: 9780316086363
  • ISBN: 0316086363

Synopsis

Each story in this jubilantly acclaimed collection pays testament to the wisdom and resilience of children, even in the face of the most agonizing circumstances.

A family living in a makeshift shanty in urban Kenya scurries to find gifts of any kind for the impending Christmas holiday. A Rwandan girl relates her family’s struggles to maintain a facade of normalcy amid unspeakable acts. A young brother and sister cope with their uncle’s attempt to sell them into slavery. Aboard a bus filled with refugees—a microcosm of today’s Africa—a Muslim boy summons his faith to bear a treacherous ride across Nigeria. Through the eyes of childhood friends the emotional toll of religious conflict in Ethiopia becomes viscerally clear.

Uwem Akpan’s debut signals the arrival of a breathtakingly talented writer who gives a matter-of-fact reality to the most extreme circumstances in stories that are nothing short of transcendent.

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  • Say You're One of Them
    From Amazon

    This is an incredible book, written from the points of view of children. But a warning: it is also heart-rending. We Americans are so safe and cozy and don't think about other realities that exist out there, the suffering which human beings are capable of causing others. It was hard to read, but beautifully written, and I am glad to have read it.

  • Tough Read
    From Amazon

    A very tough read. I thought some of the stories had potential but the stories were tough to follow and keep up with. I think a lot of that may have had to do with the language. If the author can capture you in the first few pages it is a keeper and these stories simply did not do that for me.

  • Children of Africa
    From Amazon

    I knew very little about this book before reading it and was not prepared to have my heart broken like it was, so consider this a warning and recommendation in one. Consisting of five different narratives set in five different African countries, these are stories about children experiencing the repercussions of poverty, political corruption, child slavery as well as tribal and religious warfare. We see things through the untarnished eyes of children; the perspective of innocent kids whose lives will be forever changed by what they endured. Though fictional, the stories summon experiences familiar to more African children than I can bear to think about. One is too many. I won't give it away but it was the last story, set amongst the Rwandan genocide between the Hutus and Tutsis, which really got to me. Not surprisingly, it's also the episode from which the book takes it's name. It's extremely intense. What can we do to ensure this kind of insanity neither persists nor repeats itself? All in all, it's a very interesting book that also includes a few good descriptions of the African natural landscape and sunscape as well, or as Akpan might say "the ball of gold in the foliage of the coconut plantation." I like to give an example of writing style and it's hard to choose from the many appetizing sentences but here's a quick one for you: "The fishermen at sea spangled the water with their lanterns, like stars. Yet there was no sea, no sky, no land, only points of light dangling in a black chasm." An angel gave me this book to help me gain perspective before I journey back to Kenya.

  • I couldn't wait for it to be done
    From Amazon

    I'm the type of person who will read a book she started from beginning to end even if I don't like it. I had faith in Oprah's selection and figured that each story would be better than the last. That never happened; instead each story was more horrific that the last. I would get invested in the children only to find them killed, starved, mistreated, abandoned, abused and many more horrific adjectives.I wanted to believe someone would get out- but alas nobody did. I am sorry I ordered this collection of stories. If I wanted to be immersed in this kind of stuff I would turn on news. I wanted a respite from my own life and this was not it. I found myself dreading the next page and I have never encountered that in a book before. Save your money and buy a happy book, even if it is not a literary masterpiece.

  • Disappointed
    From Amazon

    Before I list my disappointments with the book, let me say the cover photo is beautifully poignant. If the writer had chosen to end even one story with a positive outcome, that photo would have seared the possibility of hope in the reader's mind while acknowledging a difficult subject. That said, I was disappointed with both the style of writing and the story content. I was disappointed because I felt some of the story endings were needlessly horrific. This is a work of fiction-- I would have felt differently if they had been true stories. In "Fattening for Gabon", the writer asserts early on that the story was about what happened when the uncle "tried" to sell them; the statement seems misleading because the uncle did sell them. This leaves the reader feeling the children will somehow escape this fate, so I was blindsided by the ending. I was disappointed that the writer engaged in such a dark subject matter, but shed no light on why this is happening. What are the cultural, political, social, and economic forces that allow this? How common is this? Why is there such animosity between Tutsi and Hutus, between Muslim and Christian? I commend the writer for sharing these evils, but at least one story could have ended on a hopeful note. Since no story had a happy ending, an epilogue that had specific recommendations as to how one could help would have been beneficial. Finally, I was disappointed with the use of the foreign words/phrases with no interpretation; some you could guess at, but at other times, between the dialect and the foreign words, it was confusing. In addition, "Luxurious Hearses" and "My Parent's Bedroom", could have been more succinct.

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