Haiti's Earthquake in YA Fiction

I just finished Nick Lake's newest YA novel, In Darkness, on a Kindle from my library. Since I loved his Blood Ninja two years ago, I was eager to read it. It was the first eBook-format ARC I had seen, and the download made it super easy to acquire and to read!

Shorty is a young, fatherless Haitian boy, living in the desparate  Port-au-Prince slum called Site Soley. Rival gangs run drugs and guns, but are revered as benefactors of the destitute families who live within Site Soley. Pre-earthquake foreign aid workers are sometimes benevolent, but other times contribute to the local violence. By the time of the Haitian earthquake, Shorty has joined his local gang in killing rivals, getting shot himself. He is recovering in the hospital when it collapses on him during the earthquake.

Trapped alone in the dark with decaying bodies, Shorty recalls his own life, but also channels the memories of Toussaint l'Ouverture as he lead a Haitian revolution against the slavery and colonialism of the French. As Shorty drifts in and out of his own memories, we realize that his neighborhood has returned to the conditions of slavery that his ancestors fought against. A little history and a lot of  current affairs should appeal to teens who are aware of international news. The depiction of gang life, some bloody violence, and a little voudou will appeal to many others.

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