Saturday, December 28, 2019

Somali Boy Soldier Novel Vivid, Action-Packed, and Moving

(Image from Barnes & Noble)

All Abdi Mohamed wants is for his family to be together and safe.  When they're rounded up by soldiers, the 16-year-old Somalian is given an ultimatum by his American captors—infiltrate the Al Shabaab jihadi group or else.  Abdi wants nothing to do with the terrorists, but he does want to find his older brother, Dahir, who was forcibly "recruited" by the group three years ago.  As the brother of an established Al Shabaab member, Abdi has an "in" few others do, which makes him valuable.  Even so, he has little choice but to do what he's told.  His captors promise that if he does a good job, they'll make sure his whole family gets relocated to America where they will be free and happy.    

Becoming an Al Shabaab soldier is risky enough, but being an embedded spy for the Americans is one hundred times worse.  If Abdi is found out, he knows he and his family members will die a slow, painful death.  His best bet is to get the information the Americans want, grab his brother, and get away from the jihadists as fast as he can.  Abdi's plan begins to go awry almost immediately.  Forced to keep his real purpose a secret, he must go along with Al Shabaab's drills and missions, doing what the others do.  It's not long before he's just as much of a murderer as all the others.  Can Abdi get away from Al Shabaab?  Does he even want to?  When a suicide vest is strapped to his chest, he will have to make an impossible decision.  

I haven't read any books, fiction or non-, about Somali's boy soldiers, so I found Let's Go Swimming on Doomsday by Natalie C. Anderson completely fascinating.  The characters are sympathetic, interesting, and complex.  The plot speeds along at a furious pace, with lots of action and heart-pounding scenes.  Anderson's prose is strong and her descriptions vivid, all of which makes the novel come to terrifying life.  Timely and moving, Let's Go Swimming on Doomsday is an exciting, important read that should appeal to even reluctant readers.

(Readalikes:  I haven't read anything else on this subject, so I'm not sure what to compare Let's Go Swimming On Doomsday to.  Any suggestions?)

Grade:


If this were a movie, it would be rated:


for language (a handful of F-bombs, plus milder expletives), violence, blood/gore, and disturbing subject matter

To the FTC, with love:  Another library fine find

1 comment:

  1. I'm so glad you liked this one as I thought it was really good. I wish more American teens would read books set in other countries.

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