June 29, 2006

Dying of Shame

YA novels about different countries often focus on the exoticized features of their culture, but playwright and first-time YA novelist Allan Stratton doesn't go that direction. Chanda Kabelo's pretty much the same as anyone, even though she lives a world away in Africa. Like any sixteen year old, she's got people who bug her (Mrs. Tafa, the nosy neighbor and her Mom's drunken boyfriend), annoying siblings, (her little sister, Iris, is especially a pain in the butt), hard classes and tests at school, and a best friend, Esther. What's not normal about Chanda's life is how many people are dying.
But nobody talks about it.

Not really, anyway. See, people get so thin... and then they start getting sores, and fevers, and raving... and people start backing away. Nobody ever says what they're dying from. If they ever said the word, they could lose their jobs, lose their houses. Nobody would speak to them. They might find their possessions burned and cast out into the road. It's better to pretend. Call it cancer. Call it TB. Call for a witch doctor. Just don't take the test. Just don't say the word. It's better to go away and die alone than to talk about it. It's a terrible burden of shame.

It's just another one of Chanda's Secrets -- people in her village are dying of AIDS.

This book is an awesome (and tear-inducing) testament to the power of a person trying to save the ones she loves - by any means necessary. Shame can only defeat in silence; truth however, can set a village free.

1 comment:

AJ Harper said...

Thanks for the heads up on Chanda's secret, I'll check it out