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Prison Boy - Review by Hannah, Teen Blogger

“Why do governments torture their enemies and own citizens? asked Kia. It was too big a question, too complicated to ask now, but he asked it anyway. Torture has a long and involved history. I will say this: torture is used by governments and regimes when they become afraid of losing power, when they have lost their moral compass.”

Prison Boy is a stunning story that had a lasting impact on me. Vividly written, I highly recommend reading this. It is a touching, heartbreaking tale of cruelty, corruption, resilience, love, loyalty and the fight for survival. I absolutely adore anything that this author puts her pen to. Sharon E. McKay could describe what an apple tasted like and my mind would be tricked into thinking that piece of paper I was reading was a delicious juicy apple; I would probably take a big bite of that poor library book.

Ever since a woman who looked like a toothless fairy godmother had knocked on the door and delivered a crying, abandoned, fragile little baby to the orphanage, Pax never lived a day where he didn't worry about Kia. Named after his first word, Kia was different from all his other “siblings” (abandoned street kids) in the orphanage. In fact, he was different from majority of people his age. He was one of the 2-5% of children that were scientifically considered “gifted”. When the orphanage shuts down and Pax and Kia leave for the streets, eating and finding shelter for both of them becomes a daily struggle for Pax. Desperate for Kia to have a brighter future, Pax takes on a job as a bicycle-boy, delivering things for a mysterious man who goes by the name "Mister." Unfortunately, Pax’s attempt to save money for Kia’s schooling lands them in a downward spiral to a very ugly, painful, tortuous fate.

Endorsed by Amnesty Canada, this story is meant to be part of a reading campaign that raises awareness about violations of human rights, such as torture to youth globally. Living in a well-developed country it is easy to get stuck in this oblivious mental cage where everything is happy-dopey, rainbows and Wi-fi. Unfortunately, it is not as good for some parts of the world. There are places in the world where citizens live fearing their own government. According to an Amnesty annual report on torture in 2014, there is still torture in 141 countries, which adds up to approximately 72% of the world. What a gruesome number for a civilization that claims to be more advanced than previous generations. I praise Sharon McKay for writing such a stupendous, attention-gripping, action provoking novel that reveals the ugly truth that lurks in the corners of our world. Prison Boy is available in the Halifax Public Libraries Discover Catalogue, and you can learn more by checking out the Amnesty International Canada website, or viewing their short video with information, statistics and personal accounts of torture:

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