Saturday, July 02, 2011

Reader's Diary #728- Miriatu Kamara (with Susan McClelland): The Bite of the Mango

I love hearing the stories of new Canadians. What brought them here, what they think of the country so far, how different it is, and so on. So, it's no surprise that I was drawn to Miriatu Kamara's The Bite of the Mango, the true story of a young refugee woman from Sierra Leone ended up in Toronto.

And while I say I love hearing the stories of new Canadians, I don't mean to suggest it's always a pleasant story to hear. The Bite of the Mango is quite gut-wrenching; angering and sad at times, hopeful at others. Miriatu, a 12 year old girl is left handless by rebel soldiers, and while being treated at the hospital, learns that she is pregnant, from a rape that took place prior to the rebel attack, by an older man from her village.

It would be impossible for a Canadian to read The Bite of the Mango emotionless. Even without the tragic story, the comparisons to village life in Sierra Leone would be astounding. She has had no education. She sees her first phone at age 12. She had never even heard the word snow. It's fascinating. It's heartwarming to know refugees like Mariatu have a safe home in Canada. It's also important to know their histories. As new Canadians, their histories are now a part of ours.

Despite the heavy topics, The Bite of the Mango is an easy read in terms of vocabulary, told mostly as if from the 12 year old's perspective-- even though Kamara is now 22. This lends the story the emotion in needs to adequately tell the story of her past. In one of the more poignant moments, right after Mariatu has her hands cut off by a boy soldier who tells her to go to the president to ask for new hands, she asks herself, "what is a president?"

Her story is told with the assistance of award winning journalist Susan McClelland.


Anonymous said...

You're right, it's important to read the stories of the people who form that Canadian mosaic. hers seems to be a tough one.

John Mutford said...

Em: And it's touching that she really chose Canada. She even went back to Sierra Leone rather than stay in London, because it meant a chance to get to Canada.

Perogyo said...

That sounds like such an important story. It gives me hope that people like her are choosing Canada.

Heather said...

This is on my list and has been since I read a review when it first came out. I need to move this to the soonest to be read pile.

Wanda said...

I've seen this one around, in my reader and at book stores. Having neither cliked on or picked up, I had no idea what this book was about or that it was Canadian — a must read!