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Say You're One of Them

Average Rating 3
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Most Helpful Favorable Review

39 out of 40 people found this review helpful.

A worthy Oprah's book club selection

I read this book last week and wasn't surprised to see it selected to Oprah's book club, simply because it's a wonderful and unusual book that is deeply touching.

SAY YOU'RE ONE OF THEM is a book of five short stories written by Uwem Akpan. All of the stories are set...
I read this book last week and wasn't surprised to see it selected to Oprah's book club, simply because it's a wonderful and unusual book that is deeply touching.

SAY YOU'RE ONE OF THEM is a book of five short stories written by Uwem Akpan. All of the stories are set in Africa and are told from a child's perspective. They deal with such topics as slavery, religious conflict, genocide and poverty. These are stories of love and sacrifice. They are stories of compassion and confusion. They make you wonder how children can grow up and survive under such circumstances. Some of the stories will leave you feeling numb.

The story that had the biggest impact on me was My Parent's Bedroom. It's the story of Monique, a young girl living in Rwanda with her Tutsi mother and her Hutu father. There is conflict between the two tribes, which Monique and her brother Jean don't understand. It all comes to a horrifying ending for their family when their mother makes the ultimate sacrifice. I can't describe the horror I felt at the end of this story.

I enjoyed SAY YOU'RE ONE OF THEM and think it's a significant book, but I found some of the dialogue very difficult to read. I think it would have been even harder if I didn't know some French. There were times when I had to read sentences several times to extract their meaning. Here's an example of dialogue, chosen at random:

"My mama no be like dat," Jubril argued. "I say I dey come. I go join una now now. Ah ah, no vex now. Come, pollow me go fark dis cows, and I go join."

This book isn't a fast read, but I think it's an important one. The title of the book comes from the fact that children in Africa sometimes have to deny their identity and say they're one of "them" (another tribe or religion) in order to survive. You will be a different person after you've read this book.

This week I'm reading EMOTIONAL INTELLIGENCE 2.0, which is also an incredible book that is having a HUGE impact upon me personally. If you have any interest in personal development, I recommend buying both books. Now I just need to figure out what I'm going to read next week!

posted by Cheryl_Foster on September 18, 2009

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Most Helpful Critical Review

3 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

Not for the faint of heart

A great piece of literature, but it is not for the faint of heart. The stories are well written, and gives us just a glimpse of the travesties that children in Africa have had to face due to poverty & war from the perspective of a child.

In all honestly, I just wante...
A great piece of literature, but it is not for the faint of heart. The stories are well written, and gives us just a glimpse of the travesties that children in Africa have had to face due to poverty & war from the perspective of a child.

In all honestly, I just wanted to finish the book because it was too sad, and with each story, I kept anticipating that something bad was going to happen. My stomach was in knots.

If you want an honest read, this is for you. If you're looking for a good piece of fiction to escape, I would suggest you look for something else.

posted by momoftwinsMM on February 9, 2010

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  • Posted April 13, 2011

    Interesting, but hard to read

    The short stories were very interesting and brought a whole new level of understanding of life in Africa. But it is written in the way that the people speak and is extremely hard to read and get through.

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  • Posted January 2, 2010

    Say You're One of Them

    This was one of the most difficult reads in a very long time. The resilence of youth in war torn countries is difficult to imagine-- and I'm grateful I don't have to know first hand.
    What was most difficult is that it is written in native language, and without knowing the accents, it was hard to grasp. Does it show us the anguish these kids live with-- yes and no.
    It does show that we can survive- but at what cost.
    It will be a wonderful day when war ends and all the nations can find peace. Pray for this, and remember always your personal responsibilty to humanity.

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted December 12, 2009

    Depressing, dry and hard to get into

    I usually love Oprah's recommendations. I also like books that make you think. This book was depressing and I did not like the style of writing. The author uses a lot of colloquial expressions and this also makes it very hard to follow and I was just frustrated trying to figure out what people were saying. Sometimes this makes a book interesting, but this is not one of those times. It was not enjoyable. I read about 5 books a month. This is the only book in years I almost did not finish reading. I was tempted many times to give it away. I had to force myself to finish it because aside from the hard to follow conversation, the writing style is quite good.

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted November 29, 2009

    awful

    It was obvious that Oprah wanted the author to make some money. I am disappointed. I read a lot of Oprah's suggestions and most I have liked. This collection has no point, makes no sense. It is a really bizarre group of stories. If she it trying to elicit sympathy for the poverty in Aftica, this won't work. Sorry OP, you lost your street cred on this one!!

    0 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 23, 2009

    Hard to follow

    Not good and relaxing read. Too hard to follow the characters and the setting. Did not finish the book.

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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