Review Blog

Jun 08 2009

Guantanamo Boy by Anna Perera

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HarperCollins, 2008,
ISBN: 9780732288952
(Age 15+) Guantanamo Boy is a shocking story, particularly if, as the author asserts, it is inspired by real events. Khalid is an average fifteen year-old kid from Lancashire in England. He loves hanging out with his mates, playing football and online computer games. He also fancies Niamh, a new girl at school. Khalid's Mum is from Turkey and his Dad is from Pakistan and so when his grandmother dies back in Pakistan, Khalid's family travels to Karachi to visit his aunts. Khalid has a cousin called Tariq who lives in Lahore and whom he has never met, but they communicate over the Internet. One night, Khalid and Tariq are playing Bomber One, a computer game that Tariq invented, when armed men storm into the house where Khalid is staying, seize Khalid, cover his head with a hood and throw him into the back of a van, where he's kicked and beaten. This is just the start of a long and harrowing journey during which Khalid is deprived and tortured into admitting he's a member of Al Quaida and part of a terrorist plot to blow up cities around the world. Having supposedly confessed to his crime, Khalid is then taken to Guantanamo Bay and held in Camp Delta in appalling conditions and subjected to the most inhumane treatment. It takes two years before his innocence comes to light, during which Khalid's mind slips in and out of sanity. Thoughts of his family, his home in England and Niamh are all that hold him together.
This book is told in a simplistic manner to appeal to younger readers and with an obvious bias. Nonetheless, it is an important and topical story, though quite disturbing. It would be suitable for senior fiction.
Marilyn Coleman

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