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5 of 5
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list price: $20
edition:Hardcover
also available: Paperback eBook
category: Fiction
published: Sep 2008
ISBN:9780670067848
imprint: Puffin Canada

War Brothers

by Sharon McKay

reviews: 2
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5 of 5
1 rating
rated!
rated!
list price: $20
edition:Hardcover
also available: Paperback eBook
category: Fiction
published: Sep 2008
ISBN:9780670067848
imprint: Puffin Canada
Description

Sharon McKay sets her new novel in Uganda, where Joseph Kony’s Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) has, since 1987, abducted up to 30,000 children from their villages and homes for use as soldiers and slaves. It is in these nightmarish times that the fates of 5 boys and a girl are entwined. Captured from their school by the LRA, the boys wait for rescue only to discover that if they are to survive they must rely on themselves. But friendship, courage, and resilience might not be enough to save them. Based in part upon interviews with child soldiers in Northern Uganda, War Brothers is a stunning depiction of the human cost of wars fought by children.

About the Author

Sharon McKay

Sharon E. McKay is the best-selling and award-winning author of such novels as Charlie Wilcox. She is the first young-adult writer to be named as a Canadian War Artist by the Canadian Forces Artist Program (CFAP), under whose auspices she went to Afghanistan in 2008 in order to research this novel.
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Contributor Notes

Sharon McKay is an award-winning author of many books for parents and children, including Penelope from the Our Canadian Girl series. Her first young adult novel, Charlie Wilcox, won the Geoffrey Bilson Award and was shortlisted for the Governor General's Award and the Ruth Schwartz Award. Charlie Wilcox's Great War, the sequel, was nominated for a 2003 Red Maple Award. Esther, her most recent novel for young adults, was shortlisted for a 2004 Governor General's Award.

Recommended Age, Grade, and Reading Levels
Age:
14 to 18
Grade:
9
Reading age:
11 to 100

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Reader Reviews

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Canadian Children's  Book Centre
Librarian review

War Brothers

Jacob loves school – especially Math. His father is well-to-do and, so although there are many others in his homeland of Uganda who do not have his opportunities, Jacob is very proud of being a student at the George Jones Seminary for Boys. There are serious dangers lurking around him, but Jacob feels far removed from them, even though he knows the LRA, or Lord’s Resistance Army, steals Ugandan children from their homes and villages, from buses and schools. They are forced to fight as soldiers and work as slaves in the name of their leader, Joseph Kony, head of a brutal rebel movement.

As Jacob and his two best friends – Tony and Paul – begin their new term at boarding school, their headmaster entrusts them with the mentoring of a much younger mathematics protégé, Norman. The boys outwardly promise to take care of him, when inwardly, guiltily, they know he will be left on the sidelines until he makes his own friends.

Then the LRA breaks into Jacob’s dorm, abducting 38 boys – including Jacob, Tony, Paul and Norman. Suddenly, the boys are thrown together in a desperate alliance for survival, in a world where everything is upside down. Any loyalties are forbidden.

Told from Jacob’s point of view, this novel reveals the horrifying story of the ensuing three months of terror – of starvation, exhaustion, isolation, and the threat of torture or a violent death at every turn. Almost any “infraction” (speaking to or trying to help others, attempting to rest during hours of forced daily marching, or eating without having first “joined the fold” by committing murder during the frequent village raids) is punishable by decapitation, whipping or death. Even the boys’ precious Catholic faith is perverted by their captors, and God is twisted into a power who encourages war, murder and heartlessness. Memories of a safe, ordered life fade, and in Jacob’s unreal reality, only prayer, stolen moments with his friends, and the patterned predictability of numbers and mental math keep him sane.

Under these circumstances, Jacob and his friends must look out for each other – and little Norman – entirely in secret. The four become a family, bound together by their nightmarish common experience. It quickly becomes apparent that if they are to survive, they must rely on each other and use their own cunning, intelligence and courage to escape.

Complete with a glossary of terms and phrases used in Jacob’s dialect, and an author’s note describing how readers can and should get involved with organizations that help real children like Jacob, Sharon McKay’s War Brothers is a chillingly accurate, meticulously researched, and ultimately hopeful fictional account of the very real plight of child soldiers in Uganda. It is a challenging, fiercely intense book that brings mature readers face to face with evil, victimization, grief, and the dark side of human nature, but also with intrigue, adventure, suspense, loyalty, friendship, and the true meaning of family. Anyone who reads this book must be willing to part with every vestige of political apathy in their bones!

Source: The Canadian Children's Bookcentre. Fall 2008. Vol.31 No.4.

Canadian Children's  Book Centre
Librarian review

Addiction - Self-Destructive Behaviour War Brothers

Jacob and Oteka’s lives become intertwined as they find themselves in the clutches of the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) in Uganda, forced to obey the odd and brutal rules of Joseph Kony’s henchmen. Marching through harsh terrain with little food or water, they form a plan to make their escape.

Source: The Canadian Children’s Book Centre. Best Books for Kids & Teens. 2009.

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