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Because We Are

4.06  ·  Rating details ·  614 ratings  ·  104 reviews
Ten-year-old orphan Libète has been hardened by the daily struggle to survive in Cité Soleil, Haiti’s most infamous slum. But when she and her best friend, Jak, discover a young mother and her baby brutally murdered in a nearby marsh, it’s unlike anything she’s encountered before. Though initially shocked, the adults of Cité Soleil move on quickly from the event; after all ...more
Paperback, 484 pages
Published July 22nd 2014 by Thomas & Mercer (first published December 12th 2012)
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Average rating 4.06  · 
Rating details
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Lee Ann
Jan 11, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This book means a lot to me. In fact, I have already read it twice! It is a compelling story, has an intricate plot line, and uses vivid word pictures. The main characters grabbed my heart, and the depictions of Haitian life made me almost feel like I have been there. It brought to light the devastating suffering that is ongoing in Haiti and enlarged my heart to care. But it also has a hopeful element. The author obviously spent time in the country and wove genuine experiences into his writing. ...more
David Gaddy
Nov 30, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is an amazing visual step right into the slums of Haiti. Almost everything was very familiar to me as one who has been a relief worker in Haiti, both in La Gonave and the mainland. Ted does a great job of immersing you into this land and examining the mental, physical, and social strife that exists. His characters also exemplify the Haitian resilience I have seen in many of the men, women, and children I have met there. The book just feels... real.

The center of this story is a murder myster
Leah Polcar
This book's greatest strength is in the character development of the protagonist; Oswald does a remarkable job here. The portrayal of Haiti is also fascinating. I didn't find much new here, but the descriptions were accurate (from what I understand) and vivid. The weakness was the mystery that forms the backbone of this novel -- it wasn't particularly mysterious and wrapped-up too conveniently and, in my opinion, unrealistically. I also found some of the accessory characters a bit too stereotypi ...more
Hermes Aponte
Jul 22, 2014 rated it it was amazing

First of all, I would like to start off by stating that I received a finished copy of this book thanks to the Goodreads First Reads program almost a year ago, but it was not until now that I took the time to read it and, WOW, what I was missing!

This book delivered in so many ways. It did not feed up the reader with false promises. It did not fall flat nor relish itself in boring, we-have-seen-it-a-million-times plot lines that are so common in today's reads. It gave much more than
Linda Eilertsen
I'm struggling to explain why I liked this book so much, but I'm going to give it a try.

I don't know anything about Haiti. I still don't know if this book gives a faithful rendition of the place or the people, but I hope it does, because it's now my sole reference point. I kept looking up places, names, and historical events on the go to understand what was going on, and I'm just thankful that the internet exists, because thirty years ago all this background information would have been unavailab
Nate Adams
Jul 03, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: own
Very sad and powerful story
Aurora Dimitre
Jul 22, 2014 rated it really liked it
~This book was won in a Goodreads Giveaway~
~3.75 Stars~

Because We Are follows Libete, a young girl who lives in the slums of Haiti. The book covers a lot of topics, though the main part of it stems from the murder of a young mother and her baby.

As far as characters go, that's where I thought the book really excelled. Libete was a great main character - she was exciting, she got up and did things instead of waiting for things to happen to her, and she does go through some nice character develo
Feb 25, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Grim and gripping and sad, Because We Are is a work of social consciousness that cuts deep. At first, the parallels to Flavia de Luce seemed to leap to the fore: a plucky young heroine attempts to solve murders and puts herself into ridiculously dangerous situations while doing so, all in defiance of police orders to keep out of things. There's even an Inspector Hewlett arch-typical figure, although this Dimanche is cut from sterner stuff, as one would expect of a Haitian police officer attempti ...more
Tim Hoiland
Jun 30, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
In Because We Are we meet Libète and Jak, two kids from very different backgrounds who become unlikely detectives, intent on pursuing truth and justice in a land, I think it’s safe to say, that is lacking in rule of law (Paul Farmer has much to say about this when he describes “the history of the present illness” in Haiti). This murder-mystery story spans several years, including the days immediately following the earthquake of 2010, but also includes clashes with UN “peacekeepers” and local pol ...more
This audiobook was almost 17 hours long and in print 400 pages. It should be 2 books. Because it went on and on I couldn't follow the story. I couldn't figure out the time span of the novel. It could have been years but it opened with the killing of a woman and her baby and at the end of the novel there was still a concern to find the person responsible. In Cité Soleil, part of Port au Prince, life is violent and poverty endemic. A death such as this one would not be the focus of so much effort ...more
Moe Walker
Jul 21, 2014 rated it it was amazing
*This book was won from a Goodreads Giveaway*

Once I received this book I was unsure if I would like it. it sat on my bookshelf for some time. I wanted to be fully invested reading this. As I knew I would have to do a review.

I must say this book caught me by surprise. This book is well written and very engaging. This novel follows the life of two children navigating the complexities of life in Haiti. More so in the slums of Haiti. The characters where well developed and I got to know them and fe
Feb 26, 2013 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Absorbing and distressing at the same time. Young Libète is as engaging a character as Caddy Woodlawn or Laura Ingalls, but her hardships aren't long, cold winters. She endures the death of her mother, being packed off to serve as a child servant to a harsh, self-righteous woman, living with disease, hunger, death, poverty and cruelty, an earthquake that destroys her home, more sorrow than you can imagine. But she survives and even thrives, finds friendship, sees good in even the most hardened o ...more
Feb 05, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This novel lifts up a particularly puzzling and seemingly incomprehensible part of the world and bathes it in incandescent light. The people who populate this story seem strangely familiar - as if we've met them in our own communities. And so the author has demystified a place that always - at least in my mind - equaled unadulterated tragedy and hopelessness. The author clearly aims to educate and enlighten the affluent of the world about Haiti and its troubles, and yet he's done so while spinni ...more
JoAnn   W.
Mar 23, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
What a book!! It has beautiful writing, fascinating but believable characters, mystery, suspense -- all this plus an education about the life of the people of Haiti, our very poorest neighbor in the Americas.

The main characters are two children. The story stretches credulity in that they manage to survive numerous, potentially fatal dangers and attempts on their lives. But that's all part of the story and doesn't detract from the overall impact of the book.

The author lived in Haiti and has an ob
Martha Farnsworth
I LOVED this book. It gave such a strong image of life in the slum where the protagonist lives, Port au Prince, and the island she is from. The sights, smells, daily activities, Haitian Creole phrases and idioms. I haven't been yet, but I have a tiny idea of what some parts of Haiti are like now. The author did a great job of weaving in events from Haiti's history and politics, and I felt like I was learning about liberation theology along with Libete. Just loved it. Oh, and it's an engaging mys ...more
Shelley Hom
Jan 31, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I loved this book. The characters are so well written and the descriptions truly transported me to Cite Soleil. Beyond the interesting story itself, the idea of children as the protagonists attempting to get justice in such a place struck a chord in me...I adored Libete's boldness and drive!

This was a really good read, even better knowing that the money I spent is going directly to organizations in Haiti...
Incredible. There's so much to point out: the characters, the plot and storyline and the inspiration behind the whole novel. Very well written and I love how unbiased the author was in portraying Haiti's struggles, political scene and citizen life. I fell in love with Libète and Jak. Loved this book. Great read. ...more
Larry Bassett
Jul 21, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: audio, fiction
Let me begin with my biggest criticism of the book. The two protagonists in the book are preteens and what they undertake and do in the book I find totally unbelievable for children of that age. The girl who is the main character is about seven years old at the beginning of the book and maybe 13 at the end. Let me quickly acknowledge that it is very likely that children in impoverished countries may come of age much more quickly then in societies where children are protected and closely supervis ...more
Naeemah Huggins
It held me for about 80% of the book, then it just outpaced me and tossed me flat on my behind. I love the kids. Favorite character? Jacques. Liberte was just too damn nosey for me. I'm from the Caribbean and she would not have survived as long as she did. Ou too fache!

The book seemed too long for the story that it had to tell though. The pacing was weird and if you're not listening (audible) you will miss when they skip back and forth in the timeline. The timelines seemed to close together to b
Kelsey Hanson
Jun 05, 2019 rated it liked it
This is going to sound a bit odd, but I think I would have liked this book better if wasn't a mystery and was a contemporary fiction novel instead. This is an especially crazy statement coming from me because I generally don't like contemporary fiction and love mysteries. My favorites parts of this book was Liberte's backstory and watching her go through her rough childhood and surviving the hurricane. Liberte is a feisty, resourceful protagonist and watching her journey through life showcases m ...more
Aug 20, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I. Miss. Libète. &. Jak!
- A lot!

The narration by Bahni Turpin was wondrous; it helped transport me to Haiti, to Cité Soleil and Île de la Gonâve. Libète being a sort of 'more realistic' version of Pippi Longstocking, without super-powers other then her extraordinary will-power and glib mouth. Jak is her very intelligent and kind-hearted equally young friend. Both are destitute but resourceful. The backdrop is dramatic.

I feel pangs of loss having finished the book and want to climb a wall in Cit
Apr 20, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Very well-written and beautifully read by a master narrator. The characters are well-developed and the various voices in the Audible version are just amazing! I listen to a lot of audio books while I’m driving and the narrator makes a huge difference. Bahni Turpin may be the best ever. The story was interesting, even captivating, but stretched my personal reality limits, especially in the closing chapters. I don’t claim to be any kind of expert on Haiti, but I have spent some time there on a few ...more
Laura Gaisie
3 stars for me...I love that this story takes us into the beauty of Haiti but also the struggle. Oftentimes people overlook the fact that Haiti truly is a beautiful country. I would say I lost interest in the last 4 or so chapters as the mysteries began to unfold and pile up one after another. Overall I enjoyed Liberte's journey and her search for truth.

Laura Gaisie, author of Twelve Mondays
Jason Wright
Nov 09, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Set in Haiti's Cité Soleil, Because We Are thoroughly immerses readers in the sights, sounds, smells and fears of that area. I really loved this book and after reading it, I wanted to read everything be Ted Oswald. ...more
Jessica Grace
Jun 28, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: audio-books
Absolutely incredible setting and character development. Overwhelmed at how the story ties together in the end. Thank you, Ted Oswald!!
Oct 16, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I learned a lot about the politics and culture of Haiti while enjoying familiar plot of a murder mystery.
Juliannalarsen Coxnet
This book was hard for me to get into, but I stuck with it and really enjoyed it.
I was really annoyed by the disjointed writing style at first, but by the end I was so caught up in the story I was sad to see it ending.
Jul 31, 2019 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
DNF. Probably a good book. I just could not finish it. I had too many others waiting to be read.
Nov 23, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is a wonderful book, heartbreaking and uplifting at the same time. Highly recommended!
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While a law student, Ted Oswald lived in Port-au-Prince and worked in Cité Soleil, where he became deeply invested in the community and met the feisty young girl who served as the inspiration for his character Libète. Because We Are: A Novel of Haiti is his first novel.

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