Maggie Desmond-O'Brien's Reviews > Guantanamo Boy

Guantanamo Boy by Anna Perera
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's review
Feb 18, 2012

it was ok

I came into this book fully prepared for loving and was left disappointed. I do not take kindly to be disappointed. So I'm sorry if my bitterness shines through.

We start in the UK, where every effort is made to portray Khalid as an ordinary boy, with ordinary friends, who likes to play not-so-ordinary video games. Very elaborate misunderstandings with certain governments ensue, and already the reader is a little dazed by the backstory Perera throws at them. There are endless prison transfers and endless other prisoners and endless prison guards, portrayed always, always in black and white instead of the shades of gray that always dominate shady politics. Khalid is obsessed with the beautiful girl he left back home; she pulls him through. There is a drawn-out ending that beats the reader with its lofty messages until we feel black and blue.

Roll credits.

I tried to love this one. I really did. Like I said, I came into it with exceptionally high hopes. A teen novel about Guantanamo Bay, one of the most disturbing and riveting human rights incidents in my country's history? What could go wrong?

Unfortunately, what always seems to go wrong when authors set out to tell a Message instead of a Story: constant nobility and morality gets boring. There's no authenticity. And the book drags on.

There are a number of excellent moments, such as when Khalid realizes that your ideas of people rarely match up to your realities, especially when it comes to the people you think you're in love with. But they hardly outweigh the bloated and frustrating wasted potential of the rest of the book.
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Reading Progress

08/16/2011 page 156
44.0% "I'm appreciating Khalid's story and the message the author is trying to drive home, but the voice makes it hard to concentrate. My heart is totally riveted but my brain just isn't into it."
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