A searing, shocking book—part non-fiction, part novel—based on the true story of a child soldier in Uganda who survived war and enslavement and went on to create a haven for others who suffered a similar fate.
Soldier Boy begins with the story of Ricky Richard Anywar, abducted at age fourteen in 1989 to fight with Joseph Kony's rebel army in Uganda’s decades-long civil war. Ricky is trained, armed, and forced to fight government soldiers alongside his brutal kidnappers, but never stops dreaming of escape.
The story continues twenty years later, with a fictionalized character named Samuel, representative of the thousands of child soldiers Ricky eventually helped rehabilitate as founder of the internationally acclaimed charity Friends of Orphans.
Working closely with Ricky himself, debut author Keely Hutton has written an eye-opening book about a boy’s unbreakable spirit and indomitable courage. Beginning in Africa amidst the horrors of civil war, his is a story that is as uplifting as it is heartwrenching.
Praise for Solider Boy:
“Unapologetically searing and catastrophically truthful, a reminder to readers that it demands much to meet harsh realities with impossible courage.” —Kirkus Reviews
“In this brutal debut novel inspired by real-life events, Hutton addresses the horrors of the Ugandan civil war through two child soldiers. Hutton approaches the setting, conflict, and characters with unremitting honesty, drawing from Anywar’s own life (he contributes an afterword) while using the fictional Samuel as a stand-in for the current generation of unwilling soldiers. This isn’t an easy or pleasant read—Hutton doesn’t shy from discussions of rape, torture, and abuse—but it’s eye-opening and relevant.” —Publishers Weekly, starred review
“A visceral indictment of man’s inhumanity to man, while also celebrating human beings’ ability to empathize and to rescue those who desperately need saving.” —Booklist, starred review
“A compelling tale . . . with a message of hope . . . A must-purchase for teen collections.” —School Library Journal, starred review
“Hutton’s debut novel seamlessly blends the biographical account of Anywar’s experiences with the fictional story of Samuel . . . Anywar will inspire a multitude of readers with his phenomenal ability to make peace with his past and his desire to help others like him . . . A must-have for every library with a teen collection.” —VOYA
“A story that stands up for the unrelenting power of the human spirit to reject evil, the nigh-impossible odds that must be conquered to escape enslavement, and the deep scars that remain for a lifetime . . . Unapologetically searing and catastrophically truthful.” —Kirkus Reviews
“Over the years I have read many novels and memoirs about children and warfare in modern Africa, but Soldier Boy stands out as one of the very best. Based on actual historical events, this compelling novel is a story of great violence and pain, but it is also one of tremendous strength, courage, and resilience. I will definitely be assigning it to my students for many years to come.” —Alicia Catharine Decker, Associate Professor, Pennsylvania State University, author of In Idi Amin’s Shadow: Women, Gender, and Militarism in Uganda