Radiance of Tomorrow
by Ishmael Beah
In his best-selling A Long Way Gone: Memoirs of a Boy Soldier (2007), Beah wrote of his traumatic experience as victim and perpetrator in Sierra Leone's civil war. Now he works with Human Rights Watch and UNICEF in New York, and in this searing first novel, he tells of a young immigrant returning with his family to his native village seven years after the recent civil war. He finds both hope and horror, the latter driven by the overwhelming internal corruption, the former by the resilience of the people he encounters. He sees skulls and chopped hands, the remains of massacre. But there is the wonder of clean drinking water. A foreign company's diamond mining, supported by the government, is leaving the village people displaced, houses shattered, the air thick with pollution, ancient burial grounds destroyed. A parent must see her child go to bed hungry, night after night. How much will people do for jobs to feed their families? The power of the story is in the close-up, heartbreaking detail of the struggle for survival, the cruelty, and also the kindness. Copyright 2013 Booklist Reviews.