author: Allan Stratton
2008 Harper Collins Children
main character: Chanda
With a bangled brown hand thrust assuredly upon her hip, the cover gently tugs us into Chanda’s War. We revisit chararcters introduced in Stratton’s previous novel, Chanda’s Secret in this book that can be understood withou having read the previous work.
Stratton’s time spent researching in Africa pays off as it allows him to develop an authentic voice that relates the culture and traditions of this fictitious country without falling into oversympathetic stereotypes. Chanda is a young girl with uncertainties and doubts, but she has a clear voice and a strong sense of determination: she is determined to keep the promise to her dying mother to protect and care for her siblings, to complete her own education and to open a center in her mother’s name. She also respects the traditions of her family and community and works within those confines to reach her goals. Her dreams guide her to go back to her ancestral home to reconcile with her mother’s family so that she can have assitance with her siblings. She does learn to work for forgiveness and understanding but in the process is caught up in the political turmoil of her country. During the visit to her grandparent’s home, a rebel leader attacks and commits atrocious acts against his countrymen. It is amazine how well Stratton is able to present these horrendous acts with such style that they are not overwhelming for mature middle school readers. Surely this story will lead them to want to know more about issues that affect the African continent today.
Through all its tragedies, the story leaves us with a strong hope and belief that Chanda, her siblings and community, will continue to thrive.
resilience, child soldiers, reconcilliation, modern Africa