Published: 5th Jan 2012
Genre: YA Fiction, Historical
Source: Publisher for Review
Buy: Amazon UK I Amazon US I Book Depository
In darkness I count my blessings like Manman taught me. One: I am alive. Two: there is no two. In the aftermath of the Haitian earthquake a boy is trapped beneath the rubble of a ruined hospital: thirsty, terrified and alone. 'Shorty' is a child of the slums, a teenage boy who has seen enough violence to last a lifetime, and who has been inexorably drawn into the world of the gangsters who rule Site Soleil: men who dole out money with one hand and death with the other. But Shorty has a secret: a flame of revenge that blazes inside him and a burning wish to find the twin sister he lost five years ago. And he is marked. Marked in a way that links him with Toussaint L'Ouverture, the Haitian rebel who two-hundred years ago led the slave revolt and faced down Napoleon to force the French out of Haiti. As he grows weaker, Shorty relives the journey that took him to the hospital, a bullet wound in his arm. In his visions and memories he hopes to find the strength to survive, and perhaps then Toussaint can find a way to be free .
Firstly, I have to start off by saying, that this book is in no way what you think it will be.
It is the story of a boy, nicknamed Shorty, who in the aftermath of the Haiti earthquake, finds himself trapped in the rubble. As he is coming to terms with the fact he is trapped, he tells his life story, up until the point he became tangled in the rubble of a hospital. However, there is a twist.....When he is in a dreamlike state, he dreams he is Toussaint l'Overture, a great man who led the slaves of Haiti to freedom.
This book, at first glance, seems as though it would purely be the story of one boys survival, but it is so much more than that. It has the ability to make you cry, this I guarantee. It sheds new light on how hard a life truly is in Haiti, both now, and back in the time of the slaves and the revolution.
In the book itself, the author Nick Lake states "this is a work of fiction", with the true facts being there and being simplified and adjusted to fit in with the essence of the story. He has done an AMAZING job at keeping me on the edge of my seat through the whole book. If i wasn't sitting in shock at some of the more horrific details (nothing too gory, just general life in the site) i was in total awe of the sheer determination shown by Shorty. The book tells mostly of his involvement in gangs and voodoo that he has had to face in his 15 years. The details of this are shocking to read. The ways in which these incidents were portrayed, were nothing less than amazing. The other side of the coin are the details of Toussaint l'Overtures struggles to keep the revolution alive and bring Haiti back to the true residents. Another amazing account and telling of a story that needs to be told. His feelings and emotions are portrayed so openly, its like you are there with him.
I would recommend this to anyone and everyone, and already have. It is an eye opener of a book, that is possibly one of the best books i have read in a long long time. Nick Lake is nothing short of genius to be able to tell the story of Haiti the way he has. I will certainly be reading more of the pieces he decides to publish.