Soldier Boy (Hardcover)
An unforgettable novel based on the life of Ricky Richard Anywar, who at age fourteen was forced to fight as a soldier in the guerrilla army of notorious Ugandan warlord Joseph Kony
Soldier Boy begins with the story of Ricky Richard Anywar, abducted in 1989 to fight with Joseph Kony's rebel army in the Ugandan civil war (one of Africa's longest running conflicts). Ricky is trained, armed, and forced to fight government soldiers alongside his brutal kidnappers, but never stops dreaming of escape.
The story continues twenty years later, with a fictionalized character named Samuel, a boy deathly afraid of trusting anyone ever again. Samuel is representative of the thousands of child soldiers Ricky eventually helped rehabilitate as founder of the internationally acclaimed charity Friends of Orphans.
Working closely with Ricky himself, debut author Keely Hutton has written an eye-opening book about a boy’s unbreakable spirit and indomitable courage in the face of unimaginable horror.
This title has Common Core connections.
About the Author
Keely Hutton is a children’s book author and former English teacher. She worked closely with Ricky Richard Anywar to tell his story in her debut novel, Soldier Boy, which Booklist named one of the top ten first novels of the year and one of the top ten historical novels for youth the following year. Her second novel, Secret Soldiers, was a Bank Street Best Children’s Book of the Year and a Children’s Book Council Notable Social Studies Book for Young People. She is also the co-author of Achut Deng’s coming-of-age memoir Don’t Look Back, which recounts Deng’s journey from South Sudan to America. Keely lives in Rochester, New York, with her husband, two sons, and adorable dog, Maximus.
“A visceral indictment of man’s inhumanity to man, while also celebrating human beings’ ability to empathize and to rescue those who desperately need saving.” —Booklist, starred review
“Hutton approaches the setting, conflict, and characters with unremitting honesty, drawing from Anywar’s own life (he contributes an afterword) while using the fictional Samuel as a stand-in for the current generation of unwilling soldiers . . . Eye-opening and relevant.” —Publishers Weekly, starred review
“A compelling tale . . . with a message of hope . . . A must-purchase for teen collections.” —School Library Journal, starred review
“Hutton’s debut novel seamlessly blends the biographical account of Anywar’s experiences with the fictional story of Samuel . . . Anywar will inspire a multitude of readers with his phenomenal ability to make peace with his past and his desire to help others like him . . . A must-have for every library with a teen collection.” —VOYA
“A story that stands up for the unrelenting power of the human spirit to reject evil, the nigh-impossible odds that must be conquered to escape enslavement, and the deep scars that remain for a lifetime . . . Unapologetically searing and catastrophically truthful.” —Kirkus Reviews
“Over the years I have read many novels and memoirs about children and warfare in modern Africa, but Soldier Boy stands out as one of the very best. Based on actual historical events, this compelling novel is a story of great violence and pain, but it is also one of tremendous strength, courage, and resilience. I will definitely be assigning it to my students for many years to come.” —Alicia Catharine Decker, Associate Professor, Pennsylvania State University, author of In Idi Amin’s Shadow: Women, Gender, and Militarism in Uganda