In Darkness

by Nick Lake

The heartbreaking poverty and violence in Site Solèy, Haiti, are brought into... read more

The heartbreaking poverty and violence in Site Solèy, Haiti, are brought into the light for readers here in this singular, compelling novel that moves back and forth between the lives of Shorty, a teen in contemporary Haiti, and Toussaint L’Ouverture, leader of the eighteenth-century revolution that freed Haiti from France. As Shorty, trapped in building rubble after the devastating earthquake, struggles to stay alive, he reflects on his childhood and young adulthood. His father was murdered by one of two warring gang factions tied to opposing political leaders and drugs. His twin sister disappeared that day, kidnapped, Shorty thinks, by the gang. A part of his heart had been missing ever since and he dreamed of someday rescuing her, gradually getting drawn into gang life himself. As Shorty grows weaker in the rubble, he dreams about L’Ouverture, and the historical portions of the narrative shift to the rebel slave leader’s point of view. Author Nick Lake works with both fact and imagination as he conjures a mystical connection between the two characters while grounding each of their stories in the realities of their times. Lake reinforces the connection between Shorty and L’Ouverture with similar scenes in each time period described in identical or nearly identical language. The historical fight for freedom underscores the tragedy of contemporary life in Site Solèy, where poverty is another form of slavery and violent drug lords are also saviors, providing food and medicine when others—including international relief agencies—can’t, or won’t. (Age 14 and older)

© Cooperative Children's Book Center, Univ. of Wisconsin - Madison, 2013

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