Eye-opening and Uncomfortable: sometimes fiction can be very real.

Summary:

Guantanamo Boy melds many true, real-life experiences into the story of one fictionalized person: 15-year-old Khalid Ahmed. Khalid is a British Muslim who lives a very normal life with his family in Rochdale. The Ahmeds take a rare trip to Pakistant so that Khalid and his sisters can be introduced to family they have never met. It is on this trip that Khalid’s life is flipped upside-down and changed forever.

When Khalid’s father mysteriously goes missing, the family sends Khalid to try find him. In his search, Khalid comes upon a demonstration which, unbeknownset to him, is related to Al Qaeda. His presence at the demonstration, along with other factors that are mostly made up, Khalid is abducted, in the middle of the night, from the home where he is staying and taken to the US military base in Guandanamo, Cuba. The US  US Government wants Khalid to confess to being a terrorist who plans to bomb large cities so they can arrest him. They eventally arrest him becasue they torture him to his breaking point and he makes a confession, albeit a fake one.


BTSYA / Teen Reader (15):
This book was very eye-opening for me and I would recommend it to almost anyone to read, maturity allowing. The details of torture may make it very uncomfortable for younger readers, but they do greatly enhance the book. It’s very engaging and difficult to put down and to repeat myself, extremely eye-opening.

Parent Perspective:
The detailed description of Khalid's circumstance - particulalry knowing his innocence - made reading this book (please excuse the pun) torturous. I pushed myself to read half the book, but then I stopped. I jumped ahead to the last two chapters to see how the story was brought to a close. Based on other nonfiction books I've read, it seems that the author maintained the "integreity" of Khalid's experiences, giving readers a realistic finish to the book.


Content Awareness Factors:

Khalid describes his captivity and torture in graphic, brutal detail.


Type of Book:
This is a fictionalized account of how people of Islamic faith were treated in the months right after September 11, 2001.
Educational Themes:

Although this is a work of fiction, key elements of the story are built around historical events. Readers interested in Pakistan, the US War on Terrorism, and international law will find much to research and discuss in the context of human rights and this individual case.

Prejudice and racism are underlying, pervasive themes in this story. Looking behind behaviors to see what sparked those beliefs could be enlightening for teens not just in the context of this story, but in looking more analytically at their own worlds.

Reading Level:
5.5
Recommended Age To Read By Yourself:
14 and Up
Recommended Age To Read Together:
14 and Up
Age of child:
Teen STAR Review Team, Be the Star You Are!™ . Reviewer age: 15
Purchase Recommendation:
Borrow.

Title Guantanamo Boy
Author Anna Perera
Publisher Albert Whitman & Company © 2012
ISBN 9780807530788
Material Paperback
Cost $9.99
Genres Mystery, Historical Fiction, Crime, Social Issues, Middle East | Arab People
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