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Let's Go Swimming on Doomsday
Cover of Let's Go Swimming on Doomsday
Let's Go Swimming on Doomsday
Forced to become a child soldier, a sixteen-year-old Somali refugee must confront his painful past in this haunting, thrilling tale of loss and redemption for fans of A Long Way Gone and What is the...
Forced to become a child soldier, a sixteen-year-old Somali refugee must confront his painful past in this haunting, thrilling tale of loss and redemption for fans of A Long Way Gone and What is the...
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  • Forced to become a child soldier, a sixteen-year-old Somali refugee must confront his painful past in this haunting, thrilling tale of loss and redemption for fans of A Long Way Gone and What is the What
    When Abdi's family is kidnapped, he's forced to do the unthinkable: become a child soldier with the ruthless jihadi group Al Shabaab. In order to save the lives of those he loves, and earn their freedom, Abdi agrees to be embedded as a spy within the militia's ranks and to send dispatches on their plans to the Americans. The jihadists trust Abdi immediately because his older brother, Dahir, is already one of them, protégé to General Idris, aka the Butcher. If Abdi's duplicity is discovered, he will be killed.
    For weeks, Abdi trains with them, witnessing atrocity after atrocity, becoming a monster himself, wondering if he's even pretending anymore. He only escapes after he is forced into a suicide bomber's vest, which still leaves him stumps where two of his fingers used to be and his brother near death. Eventually, he finds himself on the streets of Sangui City, Kenya, stealing what he can find to get by, sleeping nights in empty alleyways, wondering what's become of the family that was stolen from him. But everything changes when Abdi's picked up for a petty theft, which sets into motion a chain reaction that forces him to reckon with a past he's been trying to forget.
    In this riveting, unflinching tale of sacrifice and hope, critically-acclaimed author Natalie C. Anderson delivers another tour-de-force that will leave readers at the edge of their seats.

Excerpts-

  • From the book ONE

    THEN: OCTOBER 18, 0600 HOURS

    MOGADISHU, SOMALIA


    I float, I float, I float.

    I open my eyes and for a second they sting, and then nothing. I look around. Underneath me the floor of the ocean swells up pale and solid. Above, the sun is broken on the water's surface into a million shining pieces.

    By now I can hold my breath for almost two minutes if I'm relaxed like this. I've carried a stone in from the shore, and the weight is perfect. It anchors me, and I am very still. Fish like slivers of glass sail by, too small for eating. Through the drone of water in my ears I can hear a crackling noise that my father once told me was the sound of tiny shrimp breathing. A jellyfish rides the current.

    I think I'd like to be a jellyfish. This is what it would feel like to be brainless and transparent.

    One minute and fifteen seconds. My vision is starting to pulse. I can feel my blood surging in my temples, telling me to breathe.

    I wait.

    One minute and thirty-eight seconds. Lungs burning, something animal in me screaming, Decide! Live or die!

    I look up at the shards of sun and tell it, Not yet. I want to live, of course I do, but it's so tempting to stay. As soon as I break for air, there's no pretending to be anything other than a boy who must swim back and put his feet on the ground. A boy who will feel his weight again, surprisingly heavy on his bones.

    For as long as I can, I resist. Two minutes and four seconds. I don't want to be the boy who will walk out of the waves, water sluicing down his black arms, falling from his white fin-gertips. That boy will walk past the fishermen's boats, past the fishermen. He'll walk from the beach onto the tarmac. He'll pass old, shattered buildings that remind him of dogs' incisors. He'll pass new buildings wrapped in scaffolding like ugly gifts. He'll disappear into Somalia's capital city, the White Pearl: Mogadishu.

    Two minutes and sixteen seconds.

    My head breaks the surface and I gasp. Air and water sting my throat.

    I tell myself I've chosen to live, but the water knows the truth. Waves brush my arms, soft as shroud linen.

    The water knows I have to die.


    TWO

    THEN: OCTOBER 18, 0730 HOURS

    MOGADISHU, SOMALIA


    By the time I get back to the hotel, I am completely dry.

    "Where have you been?" Commander Rashid says, closing the distance in two big strides and grabbing me by the collar. The others look at me from the floor, eyes shining in the gloom.

    "Swimming," I say, pointing toward the water. "Just swimming, sir."

    "Swimming?" His eyes bulge. "Swimming? What do you think this is, a holiday?"

    "I'm sorry, sir."

    I am not sorry.

    He looks me over, and I can tell he's searching for signs that I'm cracking. Or that I'm having second thoughts, or that I've done the unthinkable and sold him and the Boys out.

    "I needed to bathe," I tell him. "Like a . . ." I pretend to search for the word, even though I've thought long and hard about what to tell him. "A purification."

    Commander Rashid's voice is low and soft—a knife glinting in the dark. "That was a long bath, boy. Hakim Doctor has faith in you, but if it were up to me . . ."

    He's interrupted by Bashir jumping up from the floor. "Commander," he says, "I apologize, but can I please have your assistance with these connections? I'm not sure if the wires go here or to the other panel." He holds up a tangle of plastic and metal to...

Reviews-

  • Kirkus

    December 15, 2018
    Abdi's feelings of guilt begin when his brother Dahir is kidnapped by the jihadi group Al Shabaab in Mogadishu, Somalia, and he believes it is his fault.When American government operatives capture Abdi and his family and offer him a deal--their freedom in exchange for his infiltrating Al Shabaab--he believes he hasn't much choice. Dahir has risen in the ranks, making Abdi useful to those hunting the group's leaders. Abdi's account shifts between his time undercover and his present in Sangui City, Kenya, following his escape. Sam, a white American working with the United Nations who is grappling with her own guilt over leaving a Christian cult, meets Abdi and finds him a place in a refugee girls' boarding school by day, allowing him to sleep in her spare room. News of a possible placement in a foster family triggers an emotional deluge in which Abdi reveals all he's been through. In a dramatic climax, Abdi must decide whether family and trust will triumph over fear. At times the dialogue between Sam and Abdi feels fanciful and the story drags with unnecessary detail, with some characters feeling underdeveloped. However, this is a riveting account of young people living through violence which successfully illustrates the nuance of intent among the jihadi fighters.Greed, guilt, and redemption are layered in a sober yet tender narrative showing the lengths one will go to for loved ones. (Fiction. 14-18)

    COPYRIGHT(2018) Kirkus Reviews, ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.

  • School Library Journal

    Gr 7 Up-Abdi is just 12 years old when his older brother Dahir is kidnapped by Al Shaabab, an infamous Somali militia. Abdi feels guilty knowing that he might be the reason his brother was captured. Three years later, Abdi and his remaining family members are kidnapped by African Union Mission in Somalia. AMISOM is a collaborative effort between U.S. forces and the Somali army. After being brutally beaten by AMISOM soldiers for days, Abdi is brought before Mr. Jones, an American government official. Mr. Jones tells Abdi that Dahir is alive and is now a commander in Al Shaabab's militia. Mr. Jones offers the possibility for a new life for Abdi and his family in exchange for his infiltration of Al Shaabab's army. Abdi agrees, believing that with luck, he might save his family and his brother. Abdi infiltrates Al Shaabab only to learn that Dahir has been brainwashed completely. Abdi's rescue attempt goes awry and he is forced to hideout in a refugee home for girls. The relationship he builds with the girls and his social worker slowly helps Abdi to remember who he is. An intriguing examination of ways familial loyalty and guilt can lead anyone to make desperate choices. Anderson uses the exploration of manipulation and coercion to craft a thought-provoking narrative. VERDICT An excellent choice for public and school libraries looking for powerful realistic fiction titles.-Desiree Thomas, Worthington Library, OH

    Copyright 1 School Library Journal, LLC Used with permission.

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