An unforgettable novel based on the life of Ricky Richard Anywar, who at age fourteen was forced to fight as a soldier in the guerrilla army of notorious Ugandan warlord Joseph Kony
Soldier Boy begins with the story of Ricky Richard Anywar, abducted in 1989 to fight with Joseph Kony's rebel army in the Ugandan civil war (one of Africa's longest running conflicts). Ricky is trained, armed, and forced to fight government soldiers alongside his brutal kidnappers, but never stops dreaming of escape.
The story continues twenty years later, with a fictionalized character named Samuel, a boy deathly afraid of trusting anyone ever again. Samuel is representative of the thousands of child soldiers Ricky eventually helped rehabilitate as founder of the internationally acclaimed charity Friends of Orphans.
Working closely with Ricky himself, debut author Keely Hutton has written an eye-opening book about a boy’s unbreakable spirit and indomitable courage in the face of unimaginable horror.
This title has Common Core connections.
In this brutal debut novel inspired by real-life events, Hutton addresses the horrors of the Ugandan civil war through two child soldiers. The narrative primarily follows Ricky Richard Anywar, kidnapped at age 14 and forcibly inducted into Joseph Kony's Lord's Resistance Army alongside his brother and friends in 1989. Over the next few years, Ricky survives horrifying conditions, brutal training, and numerous combat missions, always looking for a chance to escape. Meanwhile, in 2006, 11-year-old Samuel recuperates from grievous injuries after falling in battle, unable to trust his caregivers or the strange man who insists on learning his story. Both boys are forced to confront the memories of lost friends and the things they did to stay alive. Hutton approaches the setting, conflict, and characters with unremitting honesty, drawing from Anywar's own life (he contributes an afterword) while using the fictional Samuel as a stand-in for the current generation of unwilling soldiers. This isn't an easy or pleasant read Hutton doesn't shy from discussions of rape, torture, and abuse but it's eye-opening and relevant. Ages 13 up.