Sunday, June 25, 2017

"Soldier Boy"

Keely Hutton is a novelist, educational journalist, and former teacher. She is the recipient of the Highlights Foundation Writers Workshop scholarship at Chautauqua. She has worked closely with Ricky Richard Anywar, the founder of the international charity Friends of Orphans who was a child soldier in Ugandan warlord Joseph Kony's Lord's Resistance Army, to tell his story in her first novel, Soldier Boy.

Hutton applied the Page 69 Test to Soldier Boy and reported the following:
From page 69:
With the adults and children secured in the school, the wild man closed the door.

Ricky was already braced for what came next. Grabbing a bundle of burning grass from a rebel, the wild man tossed the torch onto the roof. Within seconds, fire engulfed the dried spear grass of the thatch and smoke billowed from the windows. Armed rebels encircled the hut, their weapons aimed at the door and windows. If the fire did not claim the villagers, their bullets would.

Disbelief, a dull and heavy anesthetic, filled Ricky’s mind and body as he watched the fire spread.

When the fire and smoke silenced the villagers’ screams, the rebels forced the eleven abductees to their feet. In single file, they trudged down the road leading away from the burning school.
Page 69 follows Ricky’s and his brother’s traumatic abduction by Joseph Kony’s Lord’s Resistance Army. After being forced to witness the brutal attack on their home, the brothers are taken to the village school, where the LRA rebels continue their assault on the village. Page 69 captures the heartbreaking horrors Ricky and thousands of Ugandan children faced during the decades-long civil war that gripped their country, but at its core, Soldier Boy is about the unrelenting strength of the human spirit to find hope in the darkest corners of hell, to escape captivity despite insurmountable odds, and to hold onto humanity when all else is lost.
Visit Keely Hutton's website.

--Marshal Zeringue