Tuesday, September 24, 2013

In Darkness by Nick Lake

While recovering from a gunshot wound, fifteen-year-old Shorty becomes buried underneath the hospital when the 2010 earthquake strikes Haiti.  Trapped in complete darkness, no one can hear his screams except for those lying dead beside him and the rats.  Now awaiting help or death, Shorty recounts the events that landed him in the hospital, his mother’s political involvement in the Aristide movement, his sister’s kidnapping, and his involvement in the pro-Aristide gang, or chimére.  Shorty and Toussaint L’Ouverture, famed hero of the Haitian Revolution, each “possess” each others’ dreams, alternating points of view throughout the novel.  Folk history claims that L’Ouverture was possessed by the war god Ogun during a Voudou ceremony, establishing his leadership in the rebellion; however, Lake writes an alternate version in which Shorty possesses L’Ouverture.  Other liberties with history and religious imagery are taken, which Katie Orenstein writes about in her New York Times review.  Shorty’s immersion in gang culture and its close ties with Haiti’s political stability reminded this reader of the documentary Ghosts of Cité Soleil.  Students interested in books about gangs may enjoy this 2012 Printz winner.  Teachers may appreciate Bloomsbury’s reading guide for discussion questions and background information. -Anne Lotito-Schuh

Lake, Nick. In Darkness. London: Bloomsbury, 2012. Print.

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