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Let's Go Swimming on Doomsday

4.26  ·  Rating details ·  779 ratings  ·  173 reviews
When Abdi's family is kidnapped, he's forced to do the unthinkable: become a child soldier with the ruthless jihadi group Al Shabaab. In order to save the lives of those he loves, and earn their freedom, Abdi agrees to be embedded as a spy within the militia's ranks and to send dispatches on their plans to the Americans. The jihadists trust Abdi immediately because his old ...more
Hardcover, 464 pages
Published January 15th 2019 by G.P. Putnam's Sons Books for Young Readers
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Wyndy Jackson It was not bloody in detail. I felt it was written so you understand what had happened but not too much as to make me feel sick while reading it.

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Jan 04, 2019 marked it as to-read
Not many books that I know off that are set in my motherland.
I am intrigued by this.
Jesse bowtiesandbooks
Feb 20, 2019 rated it it was amazing

Abdi is 13 when his older brother is kidnapped at school by a terrorist organization. 3 years later, Abdi is kidnapped and tortured for 3 days in a cell by the CIA, who give Abdi a mission: infiltrate Al-Shaabab and gather information on his brother, who is very much alive and now a terrorist leader.
If Abdi refuses, his entire family will be killed. He accepts the offer to go undercover as a soldier for Al-Shaabab, in hopes of rescuing his brother and securing passports for him and his
Adah Udechukwu
Mar 05, 2019 rated it it was amazing
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Marieke du Pré
Shivers ran down my spine. My chest tightened. My heart leaped in my throat. I got nauseated. This story about a Somali teen soldier hurt tremendously.

Next week, one of my sons turns sixteen, and thinking about what he could go through if he were living in a different country, having a different life made me sick. Maybe that’s why this book affected me so much. Because it’s about a sixteen-year-old Somali boy, Abdi, kidnapped by Americans to infiltrate into Al Shabaab, ‘the Boys’, a Somali terro
Dec 23, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Abdi's older brother is grabbed by the Somali militia group (Al Shaabab) from school. Three years later, Abdi and his remaining family members are kidnapped by AMISOM (a combined U.S. and Somali army effort.) After being beaten by AMISOM, Abdi is recruited to infiltrate Al Shaabab, where his brother is now a commander. In exchange for a new life for Abdi and his family he is charged with discovering/foiling an upcoming attack. The story is told as flashbacks as Abdi is now an unwanted teenager, ...more
3.5 stars

I read this book in one day, was very stressed for the entirety of said day, and then promptly proceeded to put off reviewing it until now because I honestly don't know what to say about it. I mean, there is so much I could say about it, but I'm honestly not sure what my feelings on it are.

I thought the main character was well developed. He had clear goals, motivation, and a more than complicated history that I thought were explored really well in this book. I also appreciated the dual
My feelings-- hmm. It's a tough one because the topic is on point and it's both representative of a global issue, the battles of religion and politics, wars in which children are used and abused among horrific violence and destruction with glimmers of hope.

But clocking in at 500 pages, the non-linear storytelling that tries to quicken the pace just couldn't with such a heft to the story. It's a journey. It's about relationships. I get all of that but the students that would benefit the most fro
Meera Rajeev
May 21, 2019 rated it it was amazing
What’s the one show where you can watch a team of forensic investigators uses cutting-edge scientific methods and police work to solve crimes? CSI MIAMI! (Well, technically any of the 3 CSI shows, but that’s beside the point). CSI Miami was a gruesomely intriguing show that many enjoyed and loved, included Abdi, a thirteen-year-old Somalian boy in the book Let’s Go Swimming On Doomsday by Natalie C. Anderson. However, Abdi’s content CSI-watching life ended abruptly when Dahir, his older brother, ...more
Harmony LaJeunesse
Feb 04, 2021 rated it it was amazing
Love, love, love! A whole world I knew nothing about but now feel so invested in. Makes me want to go to Kenya even more.
Jan 05, 2019 rated it it was amazing
For this review and many others, please visit -

As soon as I saw the GORGEOUS cover and read the synopsis – I knew that this would be a book that would leave a lasting impact. I wasn’t wrong! This book FAR exceeded my expectations! I read a book by this author before. It was called City of Saints and Thieves and I really enjoyed it. It wasn’t perfect, but there were a few things that she did really well. I loved her writing, the dimensions and completeness
Let’s Go Swimming on Doomsday follows Abdi, a 16 year-old Somali boy coerced by the CIA to go undercover as an Al Shabaab soldier. Only by providing intel about imminent terrorist attacks can Abdi secure his family’s safety. He reunites with his older brother Dahir, who was abducted by Al Shabaab three years ago. But this silver lining quickly fades as Abdi learns Dahir has since embraced the ideology.

This is a brutal book. It’s about being given choices that aren’t really choices, then having t
Dec 04, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Abdi lives in Somalia and has to deal with some horrific stuff. The book flashes back between the present as the past as we learn about Abdi's brother, Dahir's abduction from his own home and into a radical religious group hellbent on getting revenge on non believers. Abdi is recruited by an American to infiltrate his brother's group and reveal their plans of attack. In the present, we find out that Abdi survives but is missing several fingers. The book does an excellent job of jumping between t ...more
Mar 01, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Wow wow wow wow!!!! Words cannot describe how much I adored this book, but I'm going to try to formulate my thoughts later in order to tell you why you should read it!!! As a Somali, I never really saw myself portrayed as a human being in popular media, so this book is a godsend! I am going to write a full review and film a video about it later, but lets just say I found a new fav!!!! ...more
Jan 04, 2020 rated it liked it
I wanted to love this book more, but I had a difficult time getting drawn into it. It was slower paced, but the details were interesting. I also have some issues with it being written by someone not of the culture. However, she wrote in the Editor's Note that she knows that there are issues with this and that she took a lot of her information from first hand accounts and spoke with many people who were dealing with the issues described in the book. I appreciate that she added that in the book. ...more
Jun 19, 2020 marked it as want-to-read-new
I need to read a netgalley book asap so will push this one back argh
Feb 02, 2019 rated it liked it
Shelves: owned-read-books
Oooh,hard one to rate! I liked it,I think it’s realistic in so many ways, but I doubt there are many «happy endings» in real life... i know it’s not a nonfiction or memoir, but a YA , but still the ending was a bit «easy»
Bang Bang Books
Feb 01, 2019 rated it liked it
I really liked City of Saints and Thieves and I wanted to like this too but...

If you follow my reviews, you'll know that I don't enjoy on-the-nose style of writing. That means I don't like the type of writing where the reader isn't allowed to think-it's all black and white. Where everything is laid out for you. I like books that challenge the reader through metaphorical language or symbolism. Some of my favorite books are by Maggie Stiefvater and John Green because colors or nature or animals sy
The cover is eye-catching and the title is intriguing. Although this is a work of fiction, I hope this will be a ladder to some memoirs like A Long Way Gone: Memoirs of a Boy Soldier by Ishmael Beah. A book is only as good as the next book that it leads a reader to. That is the only way we can help young readers become lifelong readers.
Staci Vought
Jul 18, 2019 rated it it was amazing
I flew through all 400+ took me a few minutes to get acclimated to the set-up of the story, but then I loved seeing it all come together. What a powerful story, and I’m sure it is sadly realistic. It was well-plotted and the characters fleshed out, realistic, and compelling.
Laura (midorireads)
Apr 25, 2019 rated it really liked it
*I no longer have this book on hand because I've already returned it to the library, so this review will be based on what my brain managed to remember of it.*

This is the second novel from Natalie C. Anderson, and having now read both of her books, I think it's safe to say that I'm definitely a fan of her writing. Like City of Saints & Thieves, Let's Go Swimming on Doomsday is well-written, and was gracious enough to not only entertain me, but was thrilling, as well!

Abdi is only thir
Jan 07, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
Thank you very much to penguin teen for advanced copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

I honestly cannot stress enough how much I loved this book. I’ve had a string of slightly disappointing reads recently, but within minutes of starting this book, I was hooked. The writing invoked a very clear mental image of what was going on, and this book told an unforgettable story with characters I adored.

Let’s go Swimming on Doomsday was a story about Abdi, a boy who loses his brother to a te
Jul 24, 2020 added it
This is a complex read and, thus, a complex review. I also want to say that I am a white, non-Muslim reviewer, so I cannot truly speak on the representation of this novel, though I still want to give a critical review.

I think this book has a lot of things going for it. This young-adult novel takes a close look on the motives behind people (specifically children) who join terrorist organizations. It shows (through fictional, though reality-based, events) how the United States goes about "dealing
Shivani Rohella
Oct 09, 2019 rated it it was amazing
"We all do things we're not proud of, but that doesn't make us bad people. Not if we try to fix them."
I picked up Natalie C. Anderson's Let's Go Swimming on Doomsday without knowing anything about its plot or even its genre.
It is so hard to write down my thoughts about this book because it is such an intense book.
Abdiweli, a sixteen year-old Somali boy is forced to change his identity and live with a Jihadi group Al Shabaab. He does so in order to give out their secret information to the A
Kali Cole
Jan 20, 2019 rated it really liked it
This book was definitively difficult to read. With its topics of violence, sexual abuses, and religious terrorist groups, this Somali based story gave no air to breathe. Every page felt like a constant struggle where I even felt on edge and as if eyes were watching me. For Abdi, our brave and persistent MC, he was so young to have to mature and experience all of the hardship and blood at 16. I gave this a 4 stars rating because although this story was a unique tale that I would have never though ...more
Ms. Coacher
Mar 24, 2020 rated it liked it
This was a slow start for me, but wow, I couldn't put it down the last 100 pages. It's a story woven together by weaving many threads of Somalian refugees stories. I learned a lot about what it must be like to be conscripted into the boy soldiers army at 12 or 13 years old, and how loyalty and courage and fear and terror are all mixed together into every decision one makes. I recommend this to anyone who is interested in this part of the world. ...more
Shauna Yusko
Jan 26, 2019 rated it really liked it
I liked this one even more than the authors previous book. I think there are several memoirs that would pair with this one.

My only real hesitation is that it always makes me pause when author writes realistic fiction about a place and people that she has not been to nor is her own. There is an author’s note that address this.
Jul 21, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Heart pounding action and all too real. This book brings attention to the very real climate in which children are forced to be soldiers, and the atrocities that are occurring today in the name of religion.
Apr 08, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Not an easy book to read, and heartbreaking. Two brothers, both involved as children in Somalia as soldiers. The author did a lot of research and the writing brings to life the culture, landscape and horror of the armed Islamic movement. It was a page turner, and looks at the complexity of what is going on globally. The writing was outstanding.
Jul 03, 2020 rated it really liked it
Well, fuck. Just... fuck.
Mar 20, 2019 rated it really liked it
I liked how the author played with time and sequence in this solid, plot-driven thriller about a young boy who rescues his older brother from Al Shabaab.
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Natalie C. Anderson is a writer and international development professional living in Boston, Massachusetts. She has spent the last decade working with NGOs and the UN on refugee relief and development, mainly in Africa. She was selected as the 2014-2015 Associates of the Boston Public Library Children's Writer in Residence, where she wrote her debut novel, City of Saints and Thieves.

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