Guantanamo Boy
by Perera, Anna

Innocent until proven guilty? Not here you're not. Robbed of his childhood, this is one boy's experience of the supposed war on terror. Khalid, a fifteen-year-old Muslim boy from England, is abducted from Pakistan while on holiday with his family. He is taken to Guantanamo Bay and held without charge, where his hopes and dreams are crushed under...

Anna Perera was born in London to an Irish mother and a Sri Lankan father. She worked as an English teacher in two secondary schools in London, and later became responsible for a unit for boys excluded from mainstream schools. She lives in Hampshire, England. Guantanamo Boy is her first young adult novel.

*Starred Review* Is torture ever justified? Can a confession given under torture be considered the truth? What if the suspect is only 15? There are adult books about abuse at Guantanamo Bay. But what about the many kids held without trial? Set six months after 9/11, this unforgettable novel raises crucial headline issues through the story of teenage Khalid, born near Manchester, England, into a secular Muslim family. Close with his mates on the soccer field and excited about a girl in his class, Khalid grabs every spare minute at home to play war games online with his Pakistani cousin, Tariq, whom Khalid has never met. Then, on his first family trip to Pakistan, Khalid is suddenly arrested in the street, named an enemy combatant, beaten, and questioned, first in Pakistan, then Afghanistan, and then Guantanamo Bay, where he is deprived of sleep, shackled, and water-boarded until he confesses to everything in order to stop the pain and get back home. Tariq is also a prisoner. Did he confess and betray Khalid? Were they victims of bounty hunters? Finally, after almost two years and with the help of his family's lawyer, Khalid does return home to a heartfelt welcome, but many young suspects remain in prison. The extensive back matter by the author and human-rights activists includes detailed discussion questions and more facts. Teens, and adults, too, will want to talk about the terrifying stories like Khalid's, which are happening now to young people. Copyright 2011 Booklist Reviews.

This debut, published in 2009 in the UK, chronicles in devastating detail the kidnapping, incarceration and torture of an ordinary teenager six months after 9/11.

Born in England to immigrant parents, Khalid, 15, is an avid soccer fan and fair-to-middling student. He enjoys online gaming with a Pakistani cousin, but he has no desire to visit Pakistan himself and resents having to join a family trip to Karachi, There, through a convoluted but plausible chain of events, he's mistaken for a terrorist, abducted and sent to Kandahar, Afghanistan, then to Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. During Khalid's two-year ordeal under U.S. control, he encounters other innocent victims of the War on Terror who've been subjected to torture, including waterboarding. Their jailors range from sadistic to indifferent, though a few manifest detached compassion. Khalid's experience in "enemy combatant" limbo is equally harrowing, demonstrating that helplessness and boredom can be torture, too. However, in showing readers only innocent victims, Perera effectively narrows the argument against torture to its inefficiency and unreliability. The case for a total ban requires showing why torture is wrong even when victims aren't "pure."

Nonetheless, this gripping look at a poorly defined war's unintended consequences uniquely challenges readers to reexamine common beliefs and ask searching questions about means and ends. (author's note, timeline, discussion guide) (Fiction. 13 & up) Copyright Kirkus 2011 Kirkus/BPI Communications.All rights reserved.

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