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Life under siege

Growing up amidst political turmoil and war can have profound effects on any individual. These memoirs and biographies offer nuanced explorations of lives in such uncertain places and times.

In How Dare the Sun Rise: Memoirs of a War Child, Congolese refugee Sandra Uwiringiyimana recounts life before, during, and after war. Growing up in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Sandra saw her sister shot and killed at a refugee camp. Eventually granted asylum, she recounts her American adolescence, trying to make sense of what race means in America. The politically and culturally complex picture of Africa and of black identity that Uwiringiyimana paints is welcome. (HarperCollins/Tegen, 14 years and up)

Ibtisam Barakat’s memoir Balcony on the Moon: Coming of Age in Palestine (a follow-up to Tasting the Sky) leads readers through her adolescent years in the West Bank during the 1970s and early 1980s. Although Israeli-Palestinian relations form an inescapable part of life in Ramallah, Barakat presents war from a young person’s perspective, focusing on concrete details rather than the larger political conflict. The present-tense narration allows for vivid, immediate prose. (Farrar/Ferguson, 14 years and up)

Marc Aronson and Marina Budhos‘s passionate, sprawling biography Eyes of the World: Robert Capa, Gerda Taro, and the Invention of Modern Photojournalism begins right in the middle of the action of WWII, with the D-Day landing, then flashes back to follow Capa and Taro through the development of the new field of photojournalism, including their documentation of the Spanish Civil War. Carefully selected and positioned photographs add depth to the fervor of the couple’s intense relationship, political beliefs, and art. (Holt, 14 years and up)

Astrid Lindgren’s remarkable War Diaries / Krigsdagböcker: 1939–1945 (translated from the Swedish by Sarah Death) offers a detailed, compassionate record of living through WWII, written by a young aspiring writer, wife, mother — and future internationally famous author. Lindgren made her first diary entry on September 1, 1939, the day Hitler invaded Poland, and the last on New Year’s Eve, 1945; in between she meticulously documented the progression and costs of the war, filling seventeen notebooks with newspaper clippings and her own cogent commentary. Throughout, readers can trace the birth of Pippi Longstocking from bedtime stories to published novel. A treasure trove for teen and adult Lindgren fans alike; not to be missed. (Yale University Press, 14 years–adult)

From the July 2017 issue of Notes from the Horn Book.

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Katrina Hedeen About Katrina Hedeen

Katrina Hedeen is managing editor of The Horn Book Guide.

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