The Bite of the Mango by Mariatu Kamara: Book Review

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Cover of The Bite of the Mango by Mariatu Kamara and Susan McClelland

4 Stars

Mariatu Kamara was twelve years old when she was caught up in the civil war in Sierra Leone. Most of her village was killed in a raid. Boy soldiers cut off both her hands but let her go. She shares the story of how she learned to cope in the new world she found herself in.

Holy cow. I just can’t imagine living through the things this young woman has experienced. And she was so young when everything happened! I just shudder to think of it.

But she’s a strong girl. She knows from the beginning that she must learn to live on her own. From the time she turns down the first helpful stranger’s offer to feed her a bite of mango, she struggles to live her new life on her own terms.

Her story is inspiring and heart-breaking and important. I know I as an American sometimes forget that most of the world doesn’t have it as good as I do. I get caught up in the day-to-day of “I can’t believe I have to deal with this at work,” or “Traffic is a nightmare, I hate this commute,” and forget that in some places in the world, children are killing and maiming each other in wars they don’t understand. I for one need a reality check like this from time to time.

Anyone who reads this should also read A Long Way Gone: Memoirs of a Boy Soldier by Ishmael Beah. Mariatu avoids demonizing the boy soldiers but it’s still a good idea to get their perspective as well. They were also victims in this terrible conflict.

This is by no means an easy read but I highly recommend it.

Read an excerpt.

Buy The Bite of the Mango at

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  1. I read A Long Way Gone and even heard Ishmael speak at the local university here years ago. Quite revealing as well as horrifying.
    Book Dilettante

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