17 internautes sur 18 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile
- Publié sur Amazon.com
The 2010 earthquake that struck Haiti has trapped fifteen-year-old gangster Shorty under the rubble in the hospital where he has been recovering from a gunshot. As his hope for survival slowly fades, he maintains his sanity by telling his life story to the darkness that surrounds him.
This plot would be enough to hook me, but author Nick Lake makes In Darkness more compelling by alternating Shorty's story with a third person account of Toussaint L'Ouverture, the Haitian slave who led a successful revolution against the French in the late 18th century. It is a powerful juxtaposition to pair Toussaint's hope and love for his beautiful nation and Shorty's despair in the slums of Port au Prince. Touissant's life is fascinating; as an older, unattractive, and uneducated slave, he is not the typical hero. Yet he accomplishes the seemingly impossible with wisdom and grace.
As much as I enjoyed learning more about Toussaint L'Ouverture, I found myself looking forward to Shorty's chapters. His plot feels so immediate and vital. The transformation of the character of Shorty is very clever. Initially, he comes across as an innocent victim of the earthquake, then his story slowly unfolds and the reader learns about the terrible things he has done. Just when he borders on unsympathetic, Lake deftly reminds the reader that there are few options available to youths in the slums and that Shorty manages to keep his humanity. Shorty describes his best friend, saying, "Sometimes I'd look at him and it was like he'd forgotten to put the shutters over his eyes, and I'd see right down to his soul, and see how much he was hurting. He was unprotected, is the best way I can say it. His manman died when he was little, and there was nothing about him that could keep bad stuff out." At times it is difficult to remember that the characters are children, but that is the power of In Darkness; the reality hits the reader unexpectedly.
We need more young adult literature about Haiti. This is a country that is frequently in the news for tragedies, yet there is a dearth of narratives that encourage a personal connection with the people being affected. When teaching a unit on Haitian immigration to Bahamian students, we read Frances Temple's Taste of Salt, but that was the only fiction text that was available for middle school readers. In Darkness is for older readers; the violence is explicit and the dead-end lives of the residents of the Site Soley slums weigh heavily on the reader. The publication of Lake's novel will hopefully only be the beginning of a wave of novels informing readers about life in modern Haiti.
6 internautes sur 6 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile
Rick Shaq Goldstein
- Publié sur Amazon.com
Author Nick Lake provides an intertwined story based on two true events. The 2010 devastating earthquake in Haiti is dramatically fictionalized and the overthrowing of slavery hundreds of years earlier in Haiti is attempted to be told in as true a fashion as possible. "Shorty is a Haitian boy trapped in the rubble of a hospital when an earthquake shatters the world around him." From there the reader is taken on a mystical trip back through the history of Haiti as an enslaved island hundreds of years before. The true-life character Toussaint l' Ouverture who led the Haitian slaves to freedom, and current day "Shorty" have their life stories overlap and perhaps even become one and the same in the spiritual portals of time. Though the actual time spent describing the agony and fear of being trapped in a demolished building after a monstrous earthquake is small compared to the life stories of the two protagonists... the depiction of the absolute squalor and rampant everyday crime of modern Haiti is palpable.
When you realize that dying big-headed babies discarded in trash cans are almost as natural as the sun rising in the morning... and the fact that people really do eat *MUD-PIES-MADE-OF-MUD*... then a potential reader can begin to comprehend that something as devastating as an almost totally destructive earthquake... needn't be the scariest or most depressing part of this book.
The part of Haiti described in this book has frequently been named *THE MOST DANGEROUS PLACE ON EARTH!* The modern day depictions show a society that is completely dominated by "Rap" culture characters and the "murder is cool" way of life. Drugs are everywhere and a means to an end. Voodoo is omnipresent and boundaries are like mapped off war zones. Through it all... the story is interspersed with poetic gasps that range from:
"SUDDENLY, THE HOUNGAN STOPPED. THERE WAS SILENCE, BUT IT WAS LIKE THE SILENCE YOU GET BEFORE THUNDER, OR BEFORE A DOG BARKS. THEN HIS HEAD SNAPPED ROUND TO LOOK AT ME, AND HIS EYES WEREN'T HIS EYES ANYMORE, BUT WERE LIKE GATES THAT HAVE BEEN OPENED, AND THERE WAS EMPTINESS ON THE OTHER SIDE OF THEM, AND IT MADE YOUR HEAD HURT, LIKE WHEN YOU THINK ABOUT HOW BIG INFINITY IS."
"WE WEREN'T JUST CHILDREN. THERE'S NO SUCH THING AS CHILDREN IN SITE SOLEY, ONLY SMALLER STARVING PEOPLE, ONLY SMALLER DEAD PEOPLE."
And... the beauty of a brother's love for his sister:
"YOU DIDN'T HAVE ANY CHOICE BUT TO FOLLOW MARGUERITE. I DON'T KNOW IF I CAN REALLY EXPLAIN THAT WITHOUT YOU SEEING HER. IT WAS LIKE... IT WAS LIKE HER PERSONALITY WENT IN FRONT OF HER, BRIGHT, LIKE A REVERSE SHADOW. YOU FELT THE FORCE OF HER FROM METERS AWAY."
This is a very unique book... that though based in an earthquake... takes you many miles and years away from it.
5 internautes sur 5 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile
- Publié sur Amazon.com
In Darkness tells the story of a young thug named Shorty who's recovering from a gunshot wound in a local hospital. When a devastating earthquake hits Haiti, Shorty finds himself buried under the ruins of the former hospital. All he has left... is his will to live.
I wasn't sure if I could get through this book without shedding a few tears. We all have seen the aftermath of an earthquake while watching the news, but you can never truly experience the true effect of it unless you lived through it.
Nick Lake does an extraordinary job of capturing moments of Shorty's life trapped in the rubble. In the beginning of the book, I felt myself grasping for air as though I was trapped with Shorty. While he was trapped in the ruins, he finds himself dreaming of Toussaint L'Ouverture, a former slave who led the revolution of Haiti. I didn't particularly care for the back and forth between Shorty & Toussaint life, but once I realized the connection between the two characters, it became an easier read. In Darkness is a powerful read. I would definitely recommend this book.
3 internautes sur 3 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile
- Publié sur Amazon.com
To call Nick Lake's IN DARKNESS a book for young people is to do it a disservice. Certainly it should be read by anyone who would benefit from a richer understanding of the troubled country of Haiti. But, after all, couldn't that apply to the vast majority of Americans today, regardless of their age? When most of us saw a Haiti torn apart by earthquake devastation in January 2010, those television pictures were likely the first scenes we had seen of Haiti in years, the first time we had thought of it in months. With IN DARKNESS, Nick Lake vividly --- and at times, painfully --- illustrates that Haiti's troubled recent past is but one more violent and brutal chapter in its long and bloody history.
The novel opens in January 2010, where a boy known as Shorty lies trapped in darkness, buried alive in the rubble of a collapsed hospital, surrounded by the rapidly decaying bodies of the dead. Shorty isn't sure what happened to plunge him into this hell, but he's not surprised to find himself in such a dangerous position. His entire life, in fact, has been a struggle for survival, this new challenge just a little more dire than most.
While Shorty struggles to keep his body alive, he also grasps at stories of his past to keep himself from going mad. He recalls the near-mystical circumstances of his birth, the tragedies that ripped his family apart, the series of events that led him to join a gang and become a foot soldier in the ongoing war that defined life in Haiti's slums.
He also --- without realizing it or understanding why --- dreams up stories of Toussaint L'Ouverture, the former slave who led the revolution for Haiti's people's freedom from their white oppressors. Shorty never learned all these details about Toussaint in school. How can he see inside his mind so vividly, witnessing brutal scenes from a history he never knew or even imagined? How is Shorty's present connected to Toussaint's past? And can a centuries-old story give Shorty the hope he needs to survive? As Shorty reflects, "there's always time, flowing in and out, and eventually time brings the wreckage of the past up on the beach, for other people to find."
As Nick Lake writes in his foreword to IN DARKNESS, virtually everything he writes about in the novel is actually part of Haiti's past or present. This includes violent scenes of rape, torture and murder, as well as rebellion, hope and rebirth. At one point, Shorty and Toussaint share similar impulses to classify the world. Shorty's version goes like this: "When you keep hurting someone, you do one of three things. Either you fill them up with hate, and they destroy everything around them. Or you fill them up with sadness, and they destroy themselves. Or you fill them up with justice, and they try to destroy everything that's bad and cruel in this world." Shorty's question --- and the question for the reader as well --- is whether a person can change course from a destroyer to a seeker of justice. Shedding light on Haiti's history allows Shorty to begin to comprehend his own troubled past and the arduous present and tenuous future of his country.
Reviewed by Norah Piehl
5 internautes sur 6 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile
Lady Reader's Bookstuff
- Publié sur Amazon.com
Oh. My. Goodness.
Nick Lake has written a phenomenal story. He did so with such emotion and horrific facts that I was teetering back and forth on the brink of shock and tears. There were so many facts interlaced through the entire story, it's almost as if IN DARKNESS was written as non-fiction.
Lake did an amazing job with explaining the devastation of the 2010 Haiti Earthquake. Life details of slave and black revolutionary leader Toussaint L'Ouverture were intertwined with the present day character, Shorty and his life events living in the slums of Site Soleil.
Each time period held it's own trouble for each man. Both were violent and desolate. Both Shorty and Toussaint lived an austere and future-less life, their days were filled with death, violence and a desire for something better. Lake does a brilliant job capturing the devastation and raw emotion. He also has the amazing ability to capture the raw and heart-wrenching feelings that belong to these characters. He makes you feel as if you are right there with them and going through the horrific tragedy that brought Haiti to its knees.
IN DARKNESS is desolate, gritty and harsh. Nick Lake weaves it all together with a hint of promise. In my opinion this novel is a must read.
-From The Authors Note:
"Route 9 and Boston and the war between them - are real, as is nearly every detail of life in Site Soleil. It is one of the poorest, most violent slums in existence, even more so now in the wake of the 2010 earthquake. It has frequently been named as the most dangerous place on earth. People really did, and do, eat pies made of mud, such as their desperation. Babies really were, and are, left to die on piles of trash. For years, the slum was virtually cut off by roadblocks and especially during the bloody period in the first decade of the new century, police and attaches were accused many times of shooting unarmed civilians during demonstrations and home invasions. Many residents simply disappeared, never to be seen again."