The Bite of Mango Info

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As a child in a small rural village in Sierra Leone,
Mariatu Kamara lived peacefully surrounded by family and friends. Rumors
of rebel attacks were no more than a distant worry. But when
12-year-old Mariatu set out for a neighboring village, she never
arrived. Heavily armed rebel soldiers, many no older than children
themselves, attacked and tortured Mariatu. During this brutal act of
senseless violence they cut off both her hands. Stumbling through the
countryside, Mariatu miraculously survived. The sweet taste of a mango,
her first food after the attack, reaffirmed her desire to live, but the
challenge of clutching the fruit in her bloodied arms reinforced the
grim new reality that stood before her. With no parents or living adult
to support her and living in a refugee camp, she turned to begging in
the streets of Freetown. As told to her by Mariatu, journalist Susan
McClelland has written the heartbreaking true story of the brutal
attack, its aftermath and Mariatu’s eventual arrival in Toronto
where she began to pull together the pieces of her broken life with
courage, astonishing resilience and hope.

Average Ratings and Reviews
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Ratings and Reviews From Market


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Reviews for The Bite of Mango:

2

Feb 23, 2019

Mariatu Kamara grew up in a remote village in Sierra Leone with her aunt and uncle. The civil war raging in neighbouring Liberia spilled over to Sierra Leone and the 12-year old girl was eventually caught up in the war, losing both her hands. This is the story of how Kamara faced up to her losses during the war and how she overcame the challenges facing her to make a good life for herself and for others.

The RUF attacked anyone who was not with them and cut off their hands so that they couldn't Mariatu Kamara grew up in a remote village in Sierra Leone with her aunt and uncle. The civil war raging in neighbouring Liberia spilled over to Sierra Leone and the 12-year old girl was eventually caught up in the war, losing both her hands. This is the story of how Kamara faced up to her losses during the war and how she overcame the challenges facing her to make a good life for herself and for others.

The RUF attacked anyone who was not with them and cut off their hands so that they couldn't vote (WTF!), the election slogan of the President being 'Power is in your hands'. The book is heartwarming and for me, the crowning moment was when Kamara met Ishmael Beah, a former child soldier turned activist. His book is a classic on the Sierra Leone war and he inspired Kamara to tell her own story.

But despite it's obvious interest, I found the narrative very remote from the reader. Kamara's voice doesn't often come through clearly. The worst part was when a social worker sits down Kamara and goes through the history of the country with her. It's such a cringeworthy contrived device! A lot of explanations were overly simplified, so I wish Kamara never attempted it in the first place.

One thing that sadly stood out was that it was the war that set Kamara free, despite the loss of her hands. She was going to be sold off to a friend of her aunt and uncle who basically also raped her. If the war hadn't happened when it did, I don't see how Kamara could have had a future. Other girls didn't get this opportunity and still face these restrictions. Kamara's narrative that she would simply have married her childhood sweetheart is simply delusional and sad.

I was quite annoyed at the end where the was a piece about how traditional village life that respected women so much has been destroyed by the war. I just wish people would stick to facts and not romanticise in such books. I suppose Kamara got raped and had no control over her life because she was oh, so respected! No doubt life became worse but according to the descriptions in this book, the respect was non-existent in the first place.

I'm glad that Kamara has made a good life for herself where she can make her choices and is helping others too. But let's not forget all those other people in Sierra Leone who are still struggling with corruption, lack of infrastructure, violence, and patriarchy. ...more
3

Aug 18, 2014

After a happy childhood in a Sierra Leone village, Mariatu Kamara's life took a tragic turn in 1999. The innocent girl was raped by an older man in her village. Then rebels attacked during the Civil War, killing and torturing people. The cruel rebels, many just young boy soldiers, hacked off both of her hands before heading out to destroy the next village. Twelve-year-old Mariatu managed to walk miles to get help, and found that several of her cousins had met the same fate.

Mariatu tells how they After a happy childhood in a Sierra Leone village, Mariatu Kamara's life took a tragic turn in 1999. The innocent girl was raped by an older man in her village. Then rebels attacked during the Civil War, killing and torturing people. The cruel rebels, many just young boy soldiers, hacked off both of her hands before heading out to destroy the next village. Twelve-year-old Mariatu managed to walk miles to get help, and found that several of her cousins had met the same fate.

Mariatu tells how they coped in an amputee village, going out begging in the streets so they could buy food. Relatives stayed with them in the tent village, cooking and caring for them. Mariatu's story had been publicized by journalists, and she was eventually helped by generous people in England and Canada. She learned English in Toronto, eventually attended college, and became a UNICEF representative.

The book was written in simple language, and would be suitable for high school students and adults. Mariatu does not go into graphic detail about her injuries so even squeamish people should be able to read this book. I wish she had gone into a little more detail about how she adapted to living without the use of hands, and whether she finally decided to use prosthetic devices. I also would have found it interesting if she had included a little more about the Sierra Leone Civil War (1991-2002). Although Mariatu probably did not know anything about the politics of the Civil War as a child, she was a college student when she wrote the book with a journalist.

The Bite of the Mango was an inspirational story about a resilient girl. I admire the work she was doing as a UNICEF Special Representative for Children in Armed Conflicts. She was spreading the word about the conditions in Sierra Leone, trying to obtain help for other victims. ...more
2

Jun 12, 2012

This ia a harrowing tale and one can't help but admiring Mariatu's indomitable spirit to overcome & endure all that she has in her relatively short life.

But as for the actual writing/relating of the story..., I skimmed through some earlier reviews and noted two couple of comments that resonated with my experience reading this memoir.

1) Surprisingly, I didn't feel as emotionally engaged as I expected I would be. I think this was in part for me because there were chunks of time that were This ia a harrowing tale and one can't help but admiring Mariatu's indomitable spirit to overcome & endure all that she has in her relatively short life.

But as for the actual writing/relating of the story..., I skimmed through some earlier reviews and noted two couple of comments that resonated with my experience reading this memoir.

1) Surprisingly, I didn't feel as emotionally engaged as I expected I would be. I think this was in part for me because there were chunks of time that were skipped over in a sentence or two.

2) While the begining of the book was told in a clear simple style, which worked well with the very young age she was at that time, as her experiences piled on, her world expanded, and she grew up, the 'voice' remained relatively young. There was very few moments more mature awareness or deepened perceptions or more sophisticated epiphanies. I ultimately felt there was a lot of glossing over things/events/emotions/opinions and spent a lot of time puzzling out those 'gaps' and the associated whys/hows instead of being caught up in the active narrative.

Just few more things I mulled over after reading that I found distracted from my total immersion in the book:

People who appeared or disappeared in with just a short sentence or two. In many cases they'd either been gone or had entered Mariatu's life weeks or month earlier.

Also felt that there was a disengagement on some levels in the telling of events, which was the crux of my own lack of emotional involvement. And a few places where there was heavy exposition that I wasn't sure were true discussions that acutally happened, or were info dumps for the reader's benefit.

Still this was a book that was eye-opening, distressing and absolutely worth the reading and I'm glad I had the opportunity to do so. ...more
5

Oct 22, 2009

Mariatu Kamara was born in the country of Sierra Leone, a city wracked by civil war from 1999 - 2002. The rebel army made strong use of child soldiers, a trend that many people know about as a result of A Long Way Gone an incredibly moving book by Sierra Leonean Ishmael Beah. He was one of the boy soldiers.

Mariatu on the other hand was just an 11-year-old girl when her village was attacked by the rebels. The village was destroyed, many of the villagers were tortured and/or killed, the surviving Mariatu Kamara was born in the country of Sierra Leone, a city wracked by civil war from 1999 - 2002. The rebel army made strong use of child soldiers, a trend that many people know about as a result of A Long Way Gone an incredibly moving book by Sierra Leonean Ishmael Beah. He was one of the boy soldiers.

Mariatu on the other hand was just an 11-year-old girl when her village was attacked by the rebels. The village was destroyed, many of the villagers were tortured and/or killed, the surviving citizens fled into the countryside before finding sanctuary in refugee camps, and she had her hands cut off by the rebels.

She, and many children like her, were left as symbols to the country's leadership about what the rebels could accomplished. Mariatu fought through the pain and, with the help of someone from a nearby villager, found her way to a clinic. From there, she receives treatment before ending up in a refugee camp near Freetown, the capital of Sierra Leone.

Readers join her as she tells her harrowing journey. It is an internal one in which she is confronted with being a victim of war and in which she seems to lose everything including her family. It is also a physical one in which she travels from her village and on to Freetown before trips to London and Toronto give her access to education and prosthetics.

It is an amazingly moving memoir of young lady who has faced adversity and proved that she can survive. It is well-written, though presented in very simple prose. In the process, it captures her bruised innocence, which has evolved and developed into a strong will to do everything she can to fight for the rights for the youth and women victims of war.

I thought this was incredibly inspiring. Mariatu has faced so much difficulty because of what was happening in her country. To make matters worse, people made assumptions about her because of where she was from and her experiences. I had trouble putting it aside even as my bedtime came and went. ...more
3

May 16, 2014

I wanted to like this book more than I did and I feel a little bit bad about this review in advance. There are a few reasons why I didn't really connect with it as much as I'd hoped to and they are mostly based on what my initial expectations of the book were. Perhaps the fault lies more with me than with the writer, nevertheless, it's my personal review.

1. The history buff in me had hoped for a bit more background and insight to the civil war in Sierra Leone at that time. As it were, the book I wanted to like this book more than I did and I feel a little bit bad about this review in advance. There are a few reasons why I didn't really connect with it as much as I'd hoped to and they are mostly based on what my initial expectations of the book were. Perhaps the fault lies more with me than with the writer, nevertheless, it's my personal review.

1. The history buff in me had hoped for a bit more background and insight to the civil war in Sierra Leone at that time. As it were, the book was very vague and simplistic when addressing the issues. Though, it is fair to say that perhaps this is in direct reference to the common, rural people of Sierra Leone not fully understanding the conflict themselves. However, for the sake of the book and it's readers, it would have been helpful to have.

2. The whole England portion of the book kind of rubbed me the wrong way. It's very hard to dislike (even that is too strong of a word, for me) somebody who has clearly suffered so much, but it is that suffering that had sort of led me to believe that Mariatu would have been a little bit more grateful for the opportunity she was given to leave the war-torn country she grew up in. The England portion of this book felt like complaint after complaint to me.

3. Based on the description, I'd expected more of the book to be about how she had adjusted to a life without her hands. To be frank, it's kind of her shtick (for lack of better word) and probably a pretty large reason why the book was published in the first place.

That said, I do sympathize with all the struggles and hardships faced and did enjoy, for the most part, reading about the strength it took to overcome it and find a way to live a better life. It was a very quick read and I do feel like I can connect a little bit more with a people that I knew little about previously. ...more
3

Dec 05, 2010

Wars in Africa and everywhere in the world have taken their toll on the innocents - women, children, the elderly.

The stories we are told often leave us in tears and the atrocities people experience at times of conflict are often unimaginable.

In this novel, Mariatu Kamara tells her story of living through conflict in Sierra Leone and how she escaped to Canada to start a new life.

She grew up in a small village and lived peacefully among family and friends. But rebel attacks soon got closer and Wars in Africa and everywhere in the world have taken their toll on the innocents - women, children, the elderly.

The stories we are told often leave us in tears and the atrocities people experience at times of conflict are often unimaginable.

In this novel, Mariatu Kamara tells her story of living through conflict in Sierra Leone and how she escaped to Canada to start a new life.

She grew up in a small village and lived peacefully among family and friends. But rebel attacks soon got closer and closer to her village and the young girl, her cousins and extended family were often forced to flee into the forest of nearby villages to escape the rebels.

Stories were rife about what would happen if you were caught by the rebels. Nothing prepared her for the day she was caught.

Both her hands were cut off and she was left to die. It changed her life forever. Mariatu, however, had an indomitable will to go on and this is the story of her survival.

A theatre group at a refugee camp for amputees starts her healing process and it culminates in her writing this novel with Susan McClelland.

It is a moving and passionate story, despite its matter-of-fact narrative. It is a story of courage, resilience and ultimately hope. - Meneesha Govender ...more
5

Sep 28, 2012

"The Bite Of The Mango" is an inspiring book of a young girl who had to go through so much as a child and growing up. With a lot of suffering and pain.This book might be graphical for those who might not like violence. but most of all, it teaches you a life lesson.

It teaches you to keep going forward in life even if it might be hard and to never give up when you think your world is going to collapse on you. Mariatu Kamara, was a 12 naive year old girl, who dint know much about the world, when "The Bite Of The Mango" is an inspiring book of a young girl who had to go through so much as a child and growing up. With a lot of suffering and pain.This book might be graphical for those who might not like violence. but most of all, it teaches you a life lesson.

It teaches you to keep going forward in life even if it might be hard and to never give up when you think your world is going to collapse on you. Mariatu Kamara, was a 12 naive year old girl, who dint know much about the world, when child soldiers cut both of her hands off. Imagine that happened to you?

She felt like giving up, but then her life turned around for her. She moved to the u.s were she made a new life there trying to give a remedy to the scars in her life made.

overall, this book was amazing, ...more
4

Jan 15, 2014

This book made me cry. Yeah, there's a scene on where she eats a mango or two, but this story doesn't revolve around mangoes! I was balling my eyes out, my friends had to ask me repeatedly on why am I crying. I like this book because on how she has a totally different writing style on how she delivers her own message. She didn't drawl anything out in a boring way, or in the printed English handwriting. No. Out of all the words I read in the language of my mother's tongue I can feel the This book made me cry. Yeah, there's a scene on where she eats a mango or two, but this story doesn't revolve around mangoes! I was balling my eyes out, my friends had to ask me repeatedly on why am I crying. I like this book because on how she has a totally different writing style on how she delivers her own message. She didn't drawl anything out in a boring way, or in the printed English handwriting. No. Out of all the words I read in the language of my mother's tongue I can feel the character-Mariatu-voice. There was some improper language here and there, but it gets me that feeling of the African accent through the voice in which the author is speaking. ...more
2

Mar 23, 2009

This was too much Susan McClelland and not enough Mariatu Kamara. Scenes and dialogue seemed contrived and targeted at western women. I didn't feel much magic with this tale.
4

Jan 30, 2019

You know, I actually really found myself enjoying this book.

While the writing was not superb, the ideas and people within the novel were moving. Sometimes it's important to take a step back from your own life and look at the true, harrowing life stories of others. This was one of those stories for me.

I think one of the most interesting parts of this book is its connection to A Long Way Gone: Memoirs of a Boy Soldier. I didn't even realize until close to the end of the book that I was looking at You know, I actually really found myself enjoying this book.

While the writing was not superb, the ideas and people within the novel were moving. Sometimes it's important to take a step back from your own life and look at the true, harrowing life stories of others. This was one of those stories for me.

I think one of the most interesting parts of this book is its connection to A Long Way Gone: Memoirs of a Boy Soldier. I didn't even realize until close to the end of the book that I was looking at the same conflict through the lens of a different narrative. It was thrilling and exciting for me when I realized that I was seeing two different sides to the same story.

I would, quite truly and honestly, recommend a lot of people to read this book. It is really, really good. ...more
3

Jul 16, 2019

I don't know how this one slipped past me and I haven't read it, so I'm glad I pulled it off the shelf to read this summer.

It's a slim book, but a powerful story and while the narrative seemed a little stilted, the story remains the same-- the trauma of war in Sierra Leone completely took away the hope of Kamara until she was able to find it again with a dose of resiliency and knowing that people were listening all across the globe to the atrocities of civil war in her country.

Kamara's hands I don't know how this one slipped past me and I haven't read it, so I'm glad I pulled it off the shelf to read this summer.

It's a slim book, but a powerful story and while the narrative seemed a little stilted, the story remains the same-- the trauma of war in Sierra Leone completely took away the hope of Kamara until she was able to find it again with a dose of resiliency and knowing that people were listening all across the globe to the atrocities of civil war in her country.

Kamara's hands were cut off by the rebel group as a way to "force" people to not vote, but Kamara wasn't even a teenager and didn't even know what/who a president was. She was also raped by a man hoping to take Kamara as a bride. She birthed a boy named Abdul and while he did die before his first birthday, she wanted to make sure the story was told-- she was not raped by the rebel soldiers who cut off her hands- this was a familiar rape-- but one that she didn't comprehend until people gave her words for it.

The book discusses religion, female genital mutilation, family dynamics including men take multiple wives, friendship, perseverance, and Ishmael Baeh. And while it provides enough information to understand the war, I think it could have been fleshed out for the unaware who are seeking to learn. ...more
4

Nov 19, 2014

Really interesting and tragic story-such authentic writing. I can really hear her voice. I love how much her personality shines. Can't wait to hear what she does next! Sierra Leone-not an easy life as an understatement!
2

Apr 27, 2014

I found it too depressing. But if you are interested in war, it'd suit you. I think I'm still a bit young, to tackle this book. I might come back to it later :)
5

Apr 12, 2016

A remarkable story about a courageous and determined girl who beat the odds. Mariatu's story is hard to imagine, as well as unforgettable. What she went through in her young life and who she is now is nothing but miraculous. She has so much to give the war refugees of Sierra Leone and others around the world. I hope her voice is heard.
5

Feb 20, 2015

"The Bite of the Mango" is about a little girl Mariatu that lives in Africa. And rebels are attacking Sierra Lemon. When Mariatu and her cousin go to pick so mangoes for a snack. Then when they get back the rebels have captured all the village and her family. And the rebels like to torcher people so the cut off her hands and let her go. Will she live or will the pain kill her?
I think that the book is very good and that every one will like because there is never a dull moment. So read the book "The Bite of the Mango" is about a little girl Mariatu that lives in Africa. And rebels are attacking Sierra Lemon. When Mariatu and her cousin go to pick so mangoes for a snack. Then when they get back the rebels have captured all the village and her family. And the rebels like to torcher people so the cut off her hands and let her go. Will she live or will the pain kill her?
I think that the book is very good and that every one will like because there is never a dull moment. So read the book it is really good.
...more
3

May 21, 2016

I found this story very inspirational. That a 12 year old girl could survive all that she did is amazing. Again, I have to remind myself that this story takes place in present day and that it is nonfiction. We are so isolated in this country. I was also astounded to read about the different people that reached out to her from other countries. The foreword by Ishmael Beah was wonderful and it is a great aspect of this story that their paths crossed, the former boy soldier and a girl mutilated by I found this story very inspirational. That a 12 year old girl could survive all that she did is amazing. Again, I have to remind myself that this story takes place in present day and that it is nonfiction. We are so isolated in this country. I was also astounded to read about the different people that reached out to her from other countries. The foreword by Ishmael Beah was wonderful and it is a great aspect of this story that their paths crossed, the former boy soldier and a girl mutilated by boy soldiers and that they could form a friendship. ...more
5

May 18, 2019

A heroine tells a harrowing story of surviving torture by child soldiers during the Sierra Leone war. Rebels were rampaging small villages. Residents were fleeing as they came nearer however hundreds were captured and either murdered or had their hands machete’d off. The details of this horrific event can not be summarised further. This is an important story which needs to be heard from the survivor’s words alone. My heart weeps.

I recommend this book to all people. I think this book would be A heroine tells a harrowing story of surviving torture by child soldiers during the Sierra Leone war. Rebels were rampaging small villages. Residents were fleeing as they came nearer however hundreds were captured and either murdered or had their hands machete’d off. The details of this horrific event can not be summarised further. This is an important story which needs to be heard from the survivor’s words alone. My heart weeps.

I recommend this book to all people. I think this book would be essential reading in the high school curriculum for senior students. ...more
5

Jul 31, 2012

Why oh why do I torture myself with such books? Why can't I be satisfied with glossy, happy books with no torture and abuse?

Clearly I had trouble with some of the content in this book, but this stuff really happens and the book will help us in the safe part of the world see the horrors of what those less fortunate often experience.

This story has a happy ending with Mariatu moving to Canada, getting an education and using her experiences to change the world. I hope she is successful... the world Why oh why do I torture myself with such books? Why can't I be satisfied with glossy, happy books with no torture and abuse?

Clearly I had trouble with some of the content in this book, but this stuff really happens and the book will help us in the safe part of the world see the horrors of what those less fortunate often experience.

This story has a happy ending with Mariatu moving to Canada, getting an education and using her experiences to change the world. I hope she is successful... the world needs people like her who understand the depth of despair but use their experiences to be the catalyst for change.

...more
4

May 29, 2014

This is a very worthwhile book. I was surprised to find it in the young adult section of the library as there is some really painful stuff to read. However it is about an 11 year old who experiences it and tells her own story in a very matter of fact way. I think that makes it easier to bare than it might have been otherwise. It's short and easy to read. I didn't want to put it down.

I enjoyed learning about Sierra Leone during the time of the civil war and thinking of how it must have felt to This is a very worthwhile book. I was surprised to find it in the young adult section of the library as there is some really painful stuff to read. However it is about an 11 year old who experiences it and tells her own story in a very matter of fact way. I think that makes it easier to bare than it might have been otherwise. It's short and easy to read. I didn't want to put it down.

I enjoyed learning about Sierra Leone during the time of the civil war and thinking of how it must have felt to come to America with such major cultural differences.

Once again it encouraged me to consider how fortunate I am. ...more
3

May 31, 2013

Mariatu's story is compelling -- as a 12 year old she was raped and impregnated, then had her hands cut off by child soldiers during Sierra Leone's chaotic civil war. While living in a refugee center, she gained media attention and was eventually sponsored and brought to Canada for a new life of education and opportunity. I wasn't particularly impressed by the book itself; Mariatu's voice was so matter-of-fact that the drama of her story didn't come through as much as it might have. I also felt Mariatu's story is compelling -- as a 12 year old she was raped and impregnated, then had her hands cut off by child soldiers during Sierra Leone's chaotic civil war. While living in a refugee center, she gained media attention and was eventually sponsored and brought to Canada for a new life of education and opportunity. I wasn't particularly impressed by the book itself; Mariatu's voice was so matter-of-fact that the drama of her story didn't come through as much as it might have. I also felt she lacked the depth of appreciation for her extraordinary change in circumstances that she should have had. Perhaps, though, she has become more like the rest of us - "rich" Westerners who feel entitled to live in plenty while much of the world starves and suffers. ...more
2

Jan 07, 2012

The story of Mariatu Kamara who lived through a civil war in Sierra Leone is sad but enlightening. Most of us know about the atrocities of such conflicts but to hear about them from someone who experienced them is heart rending. She was just eleven years old when her village was overrun by rebels, many of whom were no older than herself. Witnessing the murder of many of her neighbors and friends, she survives and finds herself in a refugee center without hands. How she copes with her life from The story of Mariatu Kamara who lived through a civil war in Sierra Leone is sad but enlightening. Most of us know about the atrocities of such conflicts but to hear about them from someone who experienced them is heart rending. She was just eleven years old when her village was overrun by rebels, many of whom were no older than herself. Witnessing the murder of many of her neighbors and friends, she survives and finds herself in a refugee center without hands. How she copes with her life from that point is a poignant tale. A child who grows up too soon she doesn't understand what happened when one of her parents friends raped her until she discovers that she is pregnant and the process is explained. The writing style is simplistic representing the voice of a child as Mariatu tells her story. However, it does not mature with Mariatu herself as it should when she travels to England and then to Canada where she finishes high school and enters college. ...more
5

Oct 05, 2016

This story took place in Sierra Leone, North Africa.
A 12 year old girl named Mariatu is attacked by a group of rebels, who cut off both of her hands. While recovering in hospital Mariatu finds out she is pregnant from a rape that happened before she lost her hands. So now the child was having a child! As if things weren't bad enough, Mariatu has to beg on the streets to help herself and family members who also lost their hands.
Mariatu's story is certainly a tragic one filled with one devastating This story took place in Sierra Leone, North Africa.
A 12 year old girl named Mariatu is attacked by a group of rebels, who cut off both of her hands. While recovering in hospital Mariatu finds out she is pregnant from a rape that happened before she lost her hands. So now the child was having a child! As if things weren't bad enough, Mariatu has to beg on the streets to help herself and family members who also lost their hands.


Mariatu's story is certainly a tragic one filled with one devastating event after another. Through these ordeals somehow Mariatu finds the will to survive. The inner strength that Mariatu has blow me away. Even when things were at there worst she was helping others and showing compassion for the child soldiers that cut off her hands.


What happened to Mariatu was the unthinkable, what she did because of it was one of the bravest stories I've ever heard of.


It is hard to put into words what happened in this book, but Mariatu has done it with class.
I recommend this book.
Best Regards

Sharon Laker ...more
3

Apr 01, 2009

This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here. Mariatu was 12 years old and living in Sierra Leone when her village was attacked by rebel soldiers. Although they were only children themselves (most were boys and teens), they murdered most of the villagers – burning them in their homes – and cut off the hands of others, Mariatu among them. Mariatu made her way to another village where a kind man put her on the path to Freetown, where she was able to receive medical treatment (her arms were infected where her hands had been cut off). She also Mariatu was 12 years old and living in Sierra Leone when her village was attacked by rebel soldiers. Although they were only children themselves (most were boys and teens), they murdered most of the villagers – burning them in their homes – and cut off the hands of others, Mariatu among them. Mariatu made her way to another village where a kind man put her on the path to Freetown, where she was able to receive medical treatment (her arms were infected where her hands had been cut off). She also found some of her cousins at the hospital, and later lived with them in the refugee/amputee camp. Mariatu had to learn how to do everything without using the hands she no longer possessed. She also found out that she was pregnant (by a man in the village who had raped her a month or so before the rebels attacked). Mariatu and her cousins spent most of their days begging in the streets so that they could afford to buy food for their families. During this time, Mariatu had a chance to tell her story to several journalists, who published articles about her and other Sierra Leoneans who had survived the rebel massacres. Two men from Britain and Canada offered to sponsor Mariatu after reading about her plight. The Canadian man sent clothes and money, and the British one flew her to England where Mariatu was to be fitted for prosthetic hands. While she was in England, she received word that the Canadian man had offered to bring her to Canada. Mariatu felt she was meant to go there instead, so she did the unthinkable – returning to Sierra Leone to arrange a visa and passage to Canada. Canada and Sierra Leone were very different places, but Mariatu slowly began to adapt to her new surroundings. Eventually she was able to learn English and attend high school. Currently she is in university and working to help others in Sierra Leone.

Although the first chapter didn’t immediately grab me, somewhere around chapter 2, I was completely absorbed in Mariatu’s story. The cruelty and callousness of the boys who took her hands and murdered countless others was difficult to comprehend – what turns people into monsters/automatons? Mariatu is numb with fear and shock almost the whole time, so she barely notices the pain of her missing hands. I can’t even imagine what that would be like. There was so much pointless violence in her country, and it didn’t solve anything – I think that was one of the most frustrating things. This was a really revealing inside look at a survivor of the atrocities that took place in Sierra Leone. For another viewpoint, read Ishmael Beah’s memoir, A Long Way Gone, which talks about his experiences as one of the rebel soldiers. Mariatu actually gets to meet Ishmael and they’re able find some common ground. ...more
3

Jul 08, 2018

This one is surprisingly uplifting and hopeful despite the terrible things that happen to Mariatu and her loved ones.
0

May 02, 2017

The Bite of the Mango is a heartbreaking story of a girl named Mariatu. She tells readers of her past, in which heavily armed rebel soldiers attacked her village in Sierra Leone. These soldiers attacked and tortured her, and cut off both of her hands. She managed to survive, but faced a long and difficult road ahead. She is a testament of resilience and her story is a must read.
I think this book is appropriate for middle schoolers because though tough to read, it is told in a way they can The Bite of the Mango is a heartbreaking story of a girl named Mariatu. She tells readers of her past, in which heavily armed rebel soldiers attacked her village in Sierra Leone. These soldiers attacked and tortured her, and cut off both of her hands. She managed to survive, but faced a long and difficult road ahead. She is a testament of resilience and her story is a must read.
I think this book is appropriate for middle schoolers because though tough to read, it is told in a way they can understand, and can somewhat grasp because Mariatu is not far from their age at the time much of the book takes place.
I would use this book to discuss the patterns of daily life. Students experience patterns on a daily basis. Surely, Mariatu had patterns of her own. But when those soldiers arrived in her village, her daily life changed, and the patterns she knew were broken. I would use this book as a mentor text for students to write about a time in which their daily life changed, and a pattern that they were used to was broken. How did this affect them? Was it difficult to adjust?
...more

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