Reviews provided by Syndetics
Publishers Weekly Review
Originally published in the U.K., this harrowing first novel, in which a 15-year-old British boy is apprehended as an enemy combatant while visiting family in Pakistan, focuses on the darker practices of the war on terror. "Six months after 9/11 and the world is getting madder by the day," observes Khalid's father, which foreshadows the insanity to come. Perera quickly establishes Khalid as a typical teenager who quarrels with his parents and likes to play soccer and roughhouse with friends, heightening the tragedy of what follows. After Khalid's father disappears in Karachi, Khalid's chance appearance at a protest and innocent computer gaming leads to his imprisonment for two years, first in Pakistan, then at a CIA camp in Afghanistan, and finally in Guantanamo Bay. Perera unflinchingly portrays the beating, sleep deprivation, isolation, and waterboarding that Khalid undergoes; in one section, she skillfully employs white space to demonstrate the confusion and madness caused by sleep deprivation. Readers will feel every ounce of Khalid's terror, frustration, and helplessness in this disturbing look at a sad, ongoing chapter in contemporary history. Ages 13-up. (Sept.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
School Library Journal Review
Gr 9 Up-Khalid, 15, enjoys playing video games, hanging out with his buddies, and rooting for his favorite soccer team. He has never been to Pakistan (where his father is from) or to Turkey (where his mother is from). In fact, there is not much difference between Khalid and his English friends, except that he is a Muslim and, in the words of Khalid's father, "these are bad times for Muslims." And so begins Khalid's ordeal. On a family trip to Pakistan, he is kidnapped by the CIA and sent to the notorious Guantanamo Bay prison as a suspected terrorist. He endures all levels of torture including extreme psychological abuse to the point that he suffers a mental breakdown. Some information has recently been released regarding the treatment of foreign detainees, and Guantanamo Boy, while fictional, is certainly in keeping with the news stories. It is also an account of children imprisoned at the facility, which, according to Perera, is a common occurrence and one about which many people do not know. The novel touches on very important themes (discrimination against Muslims, violation of rights, use of torture, children prisoners). It is a must-read for teens and adults alike, but readers should be prepared for difficult and painful subject matter.-Jessica McClinton Lopez, King County Library System, Auburn, WA (c) Copyright 2011. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
*Starred Review* Is torture ever justified? Can a confession given under torture be considered the truth? What if the suspect is only 15? There are adult books about abuse at Guantanamo Bay. But what about the many kids held without trial? Set six months after 9/11, this unforgettable novel raises crucial headline issues through the story of teenage Khalid, born near Manchester, England, into a secular Muslim family. Close with his mates on the soccer field and excited about a girl in his class, Khalid grabs every spare minute at home to play war games online with his Pakistani cousin, Tariq, whom Khalid has never met. Then, on his first family trip to Pakistan, Khalid is suddenly arrested in the street, named an enemy combatant, beaten, and questioned, first in Pakistan, then Afghanistan, and then Guantanamo Bay, where he is deprived of sleep, shackled, and water-boarded until he confesses to everything in order to stop the pain and get back home. Tariq is also a prisoner. Did he confess and betray Khalid? Were they victims of bounty hunters? Finally, after almost two years and with the help of his family's lawyer, Khalid does return home to a heartfelt welcome, but many young suspects remain in prison. The extensive back matter by the author and human-rights activists includes detailed discussion questions and more facts. Teens, and adults, too, will want to talk about the terrifying stories like Khalid's, which are happening now to young people.--Rochman, Haze. Copyright 2010 Booklist
Horn Book Review
Six months after 9/11, fifteen-year old Brit Khalid is apprehended as an enemy combatant while vacationing in Pakistan. Held at Guantanamo Bay for two years before his parents secure his release, Khalid undergoes beatings and torture while trying to understand how he ended up there. While the story is compelling and the questions it raises important, the book suffers from stilted prose and slow pacing. Timeline. (c) Copyright 2012. The Horn Book, Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
Kirkus Book Review
This debut, published in 2009 in the UK, chronicles in devastating detail the kidnapping, incarceration and torture of an ordinary teenager six months after 9/11.Born in England to immigrant parents, Khalid, 15, is an avid soccer fan and fair-to-middling student. He enjoys online gaming with a Pakistani cousin, but he has no desire to visit Pakistan himself and resents having to join a family trip to Karachi, There, through a convoluted but plausible chain of events, he's mistaken for a terrorist, abducted and sent to Kandahar, Afghanistan, then to Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. During Khalid's two-year ordeal under U.S. control, he encounters other innocent victims of the War on Terror who've been subjected to torture, including waterboarding. Their jailors range from sadistic to indifferent, though a few manifest detached compassion. Khalid's experience in "enemy combatant" limbo is equally harrowing, demonstrating that helplessness and boredom can be torture, too. However, in showing readers only innocent victims, Perera effectively narrows the argument against torture to its inefficiency and unreliability. The case for a total ban requires showing why torture is wrong even when victims aren't "pure."Nonetheless, this gripping look at a poorly defined war's unintended consequences uniquely challenges readers to reexamine common beliefs and ask searching questions about means and ends. (author's note, timeline, discussion guide) (Fiction. 13 up)]] Copyright Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.