Although I was very sad to see The Marrow Thieves voted off Canada Reads yesterday the fact that American War by Omar El Akkad remained a contender means I can write about it while it is still in play as a possible winner. We have heard so much talk from politicians about terrorists, and how we need to protect ourselves from terrorists, and this book tells us how we can do that………create more equality between the haves and have nots of this world and stop wars. Wars and their aftermath create terrorists out of young people with promise and potential.
Sarat the protagonist of American War is a child living in a time when the United States has become a third world country because of climate change and a divisive civil war. The war means Sarat is deprived of her father, proper schooling, medical care, adequate food, clothing and shelter. She is suspectible then to a mentor who can provide her with some of those things and most importantly give her life a sense of purpose. She is easy prey for terrorist recruiters.
This is a dark, dark book. I started out liking Sarat. My affection turned to overwhelming sadness and anger for what Sarat became. What a waste! American War puts a human face on terrorism and helps us understand that the recipe for creating terrorists is failing to address economic disparty and deciding to solve differences with war. Violence and poverty create fertile ground for terrorism to flourish.
American War is just way too depressing and hopeless a book for me to want it to win Canada Reads. Since my first pick The Boat People and my second pick The Marrow Thieves have both been eliminated from the show I will have to cheer for Forgiveness to win today even though it was my number three pick.