Son of A Gun
Anne de Graaf, Eerdmans
Son of A Gun is the story of two children’s experiences as child soldiers during the Liberian civil war.
Nopi, the older sister, and Lucky, her little brother, take turns to tell what happens to them, beginning with their abduction by soldiers from their classroom to their attempts to return to normal life after the war.
Anne de Graaf writes mostly in the present tense, which makes the children’s narratives vivid and their emotions tangible, especially their confusion, their fear and their guilt for what they are forced to do.
Son of A Gun is based on interviews the author had with former child soldiers. Nopi’s and Lucky’s experiences are mostly horrific but the language is sanitised a little, since the book was written for children; for example, Nopi mentions being “a third wife”.
De Graaf writes in the Author’s note section that “parts of this story are a little hard to read” but that they were hard for her to write too because she could still hear the actual voices of the young people talking about what happened to them.
Son of A Gun ends with educational information, including: Liberia – Facts and Figures; Weather and Natural Setting; Food; Daily Life; Primary Education; History; War; Child Soldiers and Questions for Discussions. There are also poems and pictures created by Liberian children.
Son of A Gun is suitable for children in upper primary school and early high school.