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From Barnes & NobleBarnes & Noble Discover Great New Writers
While West Africa burns under the onslaught of warring rebel factions, two teenagers, their stories forming twin narratives, struggle to survive in very different ways. Johnny Mad Dog, as he calls himself, is 16 and as familiar with his Kalashnikov as he is with the more typically boyish pursuits of girls, music, and partying. Determined to seize power from the existing government, he and his fellow soldiers leave behind a trail of murder, rape, and looting. In dramatic counterpoint, 16-old Laokolé, bookish and thoughtful, dreams of becoming an engineer and constructing buildings as high as the tallest trees. After her father is murdered and her mother is left crippled during a raid, Laokolé is forced to flee as Johnny Mad Dog and his Death Dealers invade their village. Separated from her family, with nothing but memories of violence too gruesome to recall, she must find the courage and hope to go on living.
A novel of palpable power and sharp effect, Johnny Mad Dog is a very different coming-of-age story -- one set against the backdrop of terrifying times and told through the unforgettable voices of two teenagers who witnessed it. Dongala has held a mirror to our world, and the result is a novel of penetrating insight and heartbreaking resonance. (Fall 2005 Selection)