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Caught in the Crossfire: Growing up in a War Zone

Caught in the Crossfire: Growing up in a War Zone

by Maria Ousseimi, Lamia Abuhaidar, Maria Oussiemi

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Ousseimi, whose family left Lebanon at the beginning of that country's 17-year civil war, here considers children around the world who cannot escape war. To serve as a witness to children's suffering, she returns to Lebanon and travels also to El Salvador, Mozambique, Bosnia and the violent streets of Washington, D.C., a war zone ``of a different kind.'' For each region, she supplies background information and often harrowing personal accounts; ambiguities in her acknowledgments and an absence of source notes, however, obscure the boundaries between her own interviews and the research of others. The children she quotes have been victims of war and, sometimes, participants too, such as the brutalized wolf children of Mozambique. Strong and angry, her authorial voice decries the horrors of war, from the massacre of an entire village in El Salvador to the rape of women and young girls in Bosnia. Her outrage at the circumstances of war, unfortunately, sometimes exceeds her ability to drive home the depth of an individual's pain and loss. Stark black-and-white photographs introduce the speakers, who may be shown holding a gun or lying in a hospital bed, and otherwise document the settings. Ages 10-up. (Aug.)
School Library Journal
Gr 8 UpOusseimi presents some stark realities of what it's like to live in a war zone in five areasLebanon, El Salvador, Mozambique, Bosnia-Herzegovina, and Washington, D.C. Numerous black-and-white photos, some of which are filled with contrasts of bombed-out buildings and youngsters attempting a semblance of play or struggling to survive, are combined with the words of the children themselves. A few of the young people, such as those who were involved in the Lebanese conflict, can look back at those awful years with wisdom born of maturity. Others remain filled with the rage, hopelessness, and the need for revenge. Although there is some criticism of the role of the U.S. in the El Salvador conflict, for the most part the author avoids political commentary. She explains the sources of the territorial, governmental, economic, or ethnic conflicts, but focuses more on pointing out the toll they take on the youngest citizens than on debating issues. While many of her observations and those of the interviewees are poignant, the book has some problems. Other than presenting a relentless barrage of horrific images and statements, Ousseimi offers little insight as to how such tragedies can be avoided or remedied. The lack of documentation is also disturbing. In her assessment of Washington, D.C.by far the book's weakest sectionit is sometimes difficult to determine whether she is talking specifically about the nation's capital or inner cities as a whole. And generalizations such as ``Most children who live in inner cities never fully recover from the pain they have experienced'' do a disservice to the young people that the author purports to champion. Finally, there are no maps of the areas under discussion. A visually powerful, but misguided effort.Susan Knorr, Milwaukee Public Library, WI

Product Details

Walker & Company
Publication date:
Product dimensions:
8.28(w) x 10.35(h) x 0.59(d)
Age Range:
9 - 12 Years

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