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This story tells the true events of one young man's courageous flight from injustice in West Africa, where he falls victim to violence at the hands of an abusive, gambling father, only to be captured by marauding rebel troops, then held ...
This story tells the true events of one young man's courageous flight from injustice in West Africa, where he falls victim to violence at the hands of an abusive, gambling father, only to be captured by marauding rebel troops, then held prisoner, by a supposedly enlightened Western society.
On his long road of despair he is subjected to a chain of continued abuse, victimization and disappointment. Weakened by his struggle for freedom, Ray begins to lose his sense of self and reality. This mental confusion eventually brings him to the brink of madness. Ray’s ultimate freedom is hard won, and is accomplished only through his indomitable spirit and a strong faith that prevailed against all odds…
Posted August 23, 2009
Bruce Cerew appears to wear at least two hats: he is a very fine writer, that sort of master of words that suggests he has a strong career ahead, and he is a social activist, a man who has the strength of character to use his past experiences as an immigrant struggling against the challenges of survival to find a vantage from which he can offer succor, guidance and support to those whose lives mirror his own. And in these two roles he has become founder of Amara Books Publishing as well as founder of 'The Ray of Light Foundation' that aids the neglected children of Africa.
But less about the man and more about this immensely readable and enthralling book. LONG ROAD: A WARCHILD'S STORY begins in 1978 in Nigeria where we meet Ray, the eight year old child living in a community house with his loving mother and abusive father and for the first third of the book Cerew allows us to get to know the development of an enuretic child who struggles with the world as his only means of coping with a father who doesn't want him. He gradually advances Ray through the next several years, years filled with disappointments and feelings of loss, until he almost by accident moves from a homeless child of the streets to the kindness of a man who introduces him to the world of making clothes - a chance at a career that promises at least a sense of self worth and pride while allowing him to send support money to his mother and brother. His success as a tailor leads to his companionship with an important couple who in turn open the window to a ray of light that promises a happy life outside of Africa.
Then internal wars throughout regions of Africa in the 1990s decimate Ray's progress and eventually subject him through torture and risks of loss of life that lead him to be victim of organized crime as he seeks escape form Africa to Europe. The last two thirds of the book stand as a document against man's inhumanity to man, a fine history of the many civil unrest wars in Africa, especially Liberia and Sierra Leone, that resulted in thousands of Africans suffering almost unimaginable odds to escape the tyranny. And then as young Ray ultimately finds a haven in the Netherlands he discovers other setbacks: the cruelty of treatment by Europeans of African immigrants nearly crushes his stamina to exist in his 'new and safe world' where physical war as in Africa is nearly outpaced by the racism and hatred in the 'civilized' world of Europe.
Cerew manages to relate this story of a child to man transformation in a world that seems to not want him not in a depressing and whining manner, but instead he slowly and surely traces the development of the inner strength of a tortured soul becoming a caring and resilient and kind human being. We learn to love Ray, admire his ability to look beyond his own plight to salvage the lives of his friends and extended family, and become a powerful proponent for championing human rights. All this Bruce Cerew does with a writing style that is propulsive, rich in atmosphere, filled with energy, and always with an eye to the development of a story. It may be his memoir, but it is also a very fine novel that deserves a wide audience - from those who love thrilling historical novels to those who appreciate biographies of 'survive and conquer' heroes. Grady Harp
The protagonist of War Child is Ray. Born into a family of six, Ray lives in constant fear of a domineering father, who considers his son's childhood bed-wetting a sign of weakness, accuses Ray's mother of having another man's child, and takes out his anger by abusing his own child. <BR/><BR/>At the age of twelve, Ray flees his family and embarks on a search for acceptance, his true identity, and a place to call home. His wanderings are guided by the literal woman of his dreams, Nexus, who fuels in him a desire to find the iconic White Princess who one day will be his wife.From Nigeria to Liberia to Sierra Leone, Ray pursues his dream. He becomes a successful clothing designer, finds a new family in his business mentor, and dreams of his White Princess. But this fragile contentment does not last; it is shattered by war. <BR/><BR/>Ray flees Africa for the Netherlands¿a land full of promise, a land in which he fully expects to be free. Instead, he finds virtual imprisonment, uncertainty, culture shock, and near-madness. Yet, even in the hopelessness of the refugee camps, Ray finds faith and love. In the face of cruelty and violence, he finds kindness and friendship. Thanks to his indomitable spirit, Ray's ultimate freedom is achieved at last. <BR/><BR/>Written with realistic dialogue, the book contains more than a few unexpected twists to maintain the reader¿s interest throughout. The narrative encompasses humour, adventure, politics, faith, love, and sex. The characters are multidimensional, revealing the intricacies of their personalities. And the plot builds to a logical conclusion that I believe will leave the reader satisfied that his/her time was well invested in reading War Child.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted October 28, 2008
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