The Bite of the Mango – Mariatu Kamara and Susan McClelland (2008)

Bite of the Mango bookAfter having this on the TBR pile for ages, I finally pulled it off the shelf and read it. I had been hoping for so much more (similar to the read of Monique and the Mango Rains), but it was not to be. That’s not to denigrate the story or experiences of this author in any way. I just could not seem to connect with this young girl as she told her story via a Western journalist.

The true story is compelling – Sierra Leone is taken over by rebels who attack small villages. Any villagers unfortunate enough to be caught by the renegades have atrocities committed against them, and in this particular case, the young woman is caught and has her hands cut off and she has to walk to the next town to get medical care etc. So – yes. It’s a riveting story. So why wasn’t I pulled into it like some other books?

The story is first-person narrative, but is filtered through a Western journalist and written in a very simplistic style – very “Dick and Jane go to town” structure. I wasn’t sure I could make it through a book written like this, but then rationalized it by saying that the story is autobiographical and “perhaps this is a tool to see what happened through the young girl’s eyes”.

But it didn’t really get any better after that. I really wanted to love this – however, it was not to be. I finished it, but it was rather a trial in the end. That’s a shame as the story is mostly compelling and needs to be told. Perhaps just not in this style.

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