Cover Image: Colombiano

Colombiano

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Member Reviews

"Everyone here has hard luck stories, Pedro," Alfa 1 cut in, already impatient. "Get to the point and don't think you're special." He dismissed me after summarizing the most important events in my entire life in his notebook, using only three words: Guerrilla killed father.

WOW. This is one EPIC book!! It was a bit daunting at first, when I realized it was over 700 pages (800 on Kindle), but folks, it is honestly worth every page! There was a lot of violence, but given the subject matter and location, that's a given. The book is also based on true facts, so authenticity is key. Author Rusty Young is the most obvious and credible choice to write this novel - just read his bio; you'll be convinced too. 

The story is narrated by Pedro Gutierrez. He and his family are trying to live under the radar on their farm in a community right in the middle of a waging political civil war. When Pedro's father is shot dead in front of him by Guerrilla soldiers, he's finally forced to take sides. He joins a paramilitary group, thus unraveling the story of a boy setting out to avenge his father’s death.

The war is being fought between two domestic groups and the Columbian Government's army. A resistance group named the FARC Guerrilla consists of farmers who have banded together to fight poverty and social inequality. They want to topple the government and install communist rule. To fund their revolution, they tax businesses and kidnap rich civilian farmers, appropriating their lands for redistribution to the poor. The second resistance group is the Paramilitaries, created by wealthy land and business owners, tired of the governments failure to protect them. They form their own private militias and ‘death squads’, secretly working alongside the army in an attempt to defeat the corrupt and violent Guerilla organization.

Over months of training with the Paramilitaries, Pedro experiences hostility, brutality and bloodshed,  in an effort to weed out the weak. In his blind ambition he makes a lot of really stupid, rash and selfish decisions, affecting those around him, and effecting a perpetual and barbarous succession of events. But I had to keep reminding myself that he and his comrades were literally KIDS fighting these wars!

The writing is exceptional, the pace is phenomenal, and the content is spellbinding and powerful. This is a must read, you won't want to put it down!

My sincerest thanks to Lily Green at Havelock & Baker Publishing and Netgally for considering me for this ARC, in turn for providing an honest and unbiased review.
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4-4.5 stars

This was a tough one to read, but it was also very eye-opening. This is basically the story of the conflict between the guerillas, the autodefencias, and the government army in Colombia told through the eyes of Pedro Gutierrez, a boy who is drawn into the conflict (voluntarily or otherwise--that's a matter of debate) when his father is executed in front of him by Guerrilla forces. We are given explicit descriptions of the brutality that many child soldiers (both in the audtodefencias and in the guerrillas) experienced as they learned to be killers in a war that was not of their own making. As Pedro makes poor decision after poor decision, you are left to wonder how much of it was people were manipulating his hate to fuel him and how much of it was because he just couldn't see past his own selfish need for revenge. It was probably the pressure cooker of both. I read this while our country's president is pushing for strikes against Iran and all I can think of is that no one wins during war except the weapons manufacturers and the already rich men (and women) who are profiting from it. Sigh. But what I did like is that as brutal as some of the leaders were on all sides, even the worst of them were humanized in one way or another (although I hated the Diazes throughout the book), and you were made to think about the reasons for the fighting and that there were good men on all sides. One of the messages that came through loud and clear to me was that innocents ended up dying for the almighty dollar and some of the brutal fighters are fighting purely for survival, not just for themselves but for their families. But corrupt leaders will take advantage of that pain and use it for their own means. No winners. 

This was a long book (the kindle edition I was sent has 924 pages), but it didn't feel that way, in part because the chapters were fairly short and I was able to read it in chunks. Also, the author's style is such that it's almost as if the main character is telling his story long after he's had a chance to heal from it and there is some feeling of detachment almost. The narrator at times talks about how stupid he was or he'll say foreshadowing statements that end up taking away some of the tension. Is that a good thing or a bad thing? I'm not sure. On the one hand, I think the author could have written this in such a way to really pull at the heartstrings. But then I don't know if many people could have made it through the book because some of the scenes were so painful and disturbing. Instead, I found it engrossing and riveting as I tried to figure out how this could end up well for the narrator. By making him the narrator, you know he makes it through alive, and perhaps you have some inkling that his state-of-mind is, if not without regret, at least he's at peace with himself. 

One last thought. The very last part seemed kind of silly, but it's kind of in keeping with Palilo himself and his irrepressible optimism. I really loved his character, and I'm glad he was there as the voice of reason, as well as a humorous foil. He made the tough parts of the story easier to handle. In the end, I'm glad I took the time to read this book. I learned a great deal about a country and period of history that I knew only headlines. This book shared personal stories and put humanity in the midst of all the pain. I'm hoping that because Rusty Young based this story on hundreds of firsthand accounts that some of the kids made it through this time whole enough to make real lives for themselves, much as the survivors in this story made it through.

Special thanks to #HavelockandBakerPublishing, who offered me this ARC in exchange for an honest review, as well as #NetGalley for hosting it.
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I received a free copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an open and honest review.  This is an amazing and incredible tale about a young teenager, Pedro, growing up in war-torn Columbia, between the government, guerrillas and drug lords.  It is full of horrific violence, betrayal and corruption, but it is also a love story – love for family and romantic love.  Pedro is trying to live a peaceful life with his family and his friends, when his father is murdered right in front of him by the Guerrilla soldiers outside their home. Throughout the story, he tries to avenge his father's death.  In order to do this, he joins an illegal paramilitary group, and learns to fight and kill.  He is driven into a dark place and is consumed by hatred toward the many men who killed his father and prevented his entire family from living in their home and family farm.  The book also demonstrates how thousands of young children, male and female, are thrust into the war having to choose which group to fight for.  They are submitted to watching horrific acts of violence, not just during combat but to their own ranks for having defied orders.  I actually had to put this book down a few times because I was afraid to read what was around the corner!  There were moments when I actually gasped out loud!  This book was a bit out of my comfort zone due to some of the horrific violence, but the author was able to convince me to like Pedro and root for him to do the right thing.  Pedro has a strong love for his family, his girlfriend, Camila, and his best friend, Palillo.  It is a long book but worth the read.  While this is a fictional book, there are parts of the story that are real.
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‘Why do you want to tell your story?’

Presented as a novel, this book is a blend of fact and fiction set in post-Pablo Escobar Colombia. The author, Rusty Young, spent seven years living in Colombia.  I read that he spent four of those years working for the US government in counter terrorism.  Through his job, he met several different people, including special forces soldiers, undercover intelligence agents and members of the two main paramilitary terrorist organisations: the FARC and the AUC (Autodefensas).  And, consequently, he became aware of the plight of child soldiers, some of whom were only eight years old when they were recruited.

This is the story of Pedro Gutiérrez, a fifteen-year-old boy, whose life is ripped apart when his father is executed in front of him, and he and his mother are banished from the family farm by FARC guerrillas.

 ‘It wasn’t until my late childhood that I realised that the war was all around me, and always had been.’

Pedro wants revenge, and he swears to kill the five men responsible.  He and his best friend join an illegal paramilitary group where they are trained to fight and to kill.  Any sign of weakness is punished severely.  Pedro’s desire for vengeance becomes justification for his own acts of violence, and he risks losing those he loves as a result.  Can Pedro be saved?

This is not an enjoyable novel, but it is an important (albeit uncomfortable) read. Why?  Consider the lives of child soldiers. Why are they so vulnerable to recruitment? If they survive their experiences, how can they recover from the lives they’ve been forced to live?  Is it possible to recover from such trauma?  How can you identify who to trust? Mr Young’s novel explores the context within Colombia: political unrest (and failure); drug cartels and rural villages held to ransom.

‘Goodbye is for people you’ll see again.’

I’ll finish with this extract (from ‘About the Author’) at the end of the book:

‘Since 2011, Rusty’s house has been the headquarters for a foundation that helps rehabilitate and resocialise former child soldiers.  Ten percent of his royalties from this book will go to assisting Colombian children affected by violence.’

Note: My thanks to NetGalley and Havelock and Baker Publishing for providing me with a free electronic copy of this book for review purposes.

Jennifer Cameron-Smith
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I really wish this was a 10 star system - I'd give this book a solid 7.  But alas, I have to rate it a 3.

The book is long but beyond engrossing.  I couldn't put it down.  It's about the children who are recruited to become fighters in the drugs was of Colombia.

First and foremost, everybody should but this book if for no other reason then a portion of the proceeds go to helping rehabilitate children who are victims of this savagery.  

The book is a somewhat historical fiction account of the drug wars in Colombia during the late 20th century. The names of the characters are changed, but with some basic ingenuity, Google can help you figure out who many of the primary characters and events are.

The book follows Pedro, a 15 year old who joins the Autodefensas after the warring Guerillas kill his father in front of him.  Pedro is out for revenge and rises through the ranks of the Autodefensas pretty quickly.

The things I like about this book is that it brings to life all the brutality in this war.  It's horrific what happened.  The writing is smooth and incredibly easy to read and, in fact, after reading this I'm very eager to read Rusty Young's other novel.

There are, however, a few things that I think could've been better.  First, the book doesn't need to be as long as it is.  A little bit more editing could've greatly shortened the novel without losing any elements of the story.
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Colombiano is a novel about the violence which gripped Colombia in the post-Escobar era. Colombia has a long history of violence which historians attribute to its challenging geography of mountains and jungles, and the failure of leader after leader to establish an effective government.  The writer spent four years working in the country covertly for the US.  After witnessing the high number of fighters who were teenagers (and younger), he sought out some of them, and listened to their stories.  He decided the best way to tell their  story was through fiction. 

The central character of the novel is 16-year-old Pedro Gutiérrez whose family has managed to placate both paramilitaries and guerrillas who pass through their small town. That is until the day that the guerrillas kill his father.  Pedro then joins to paramilitaries with the goal of revenging the death of his father.  Pedro finds a group of brutal men who are commanding a troup made up primarily of young people. Many are not there willingly, but leaving is not an option.  Quickly the reader comes to see that both the guerillas and the paramilitaries are undeserving of sympathy and extreme violence is their daily bread. 

Young writes with conviction and veracity. He creates believable characters, and avoids making them mere caricatures. His experience in the country shines through in his descriptions of the people, daily life, the geography, and the struggle of those caught between warring factions.  As an outsider, Young has the ability to provide a long view, as well as deftly describing the day-to-day existence of life on the run as a paramilitary.

This is a novel about great civil disturbances and warring groups. As such, there is a great deal of violence involved. This cannot be avoided, but it may be too much for some readers. It offers a view of the plight of child soldiers, and those ordinary people living in the midst of civil strife.

I was provided a copy of the book through NetGalley by the author in exchange for a fair review.
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4 bright stars for a very long(819 pages) book.  The author was an undercover agent for the U.S. Government.  He was assisting the Colombian Government's anti terrorist operations.  During this time he interviewed many former soldiers from FARC, the Communist guerrilla organization, and AUC, the right wing paramilitary organization.  
FARC has waged war against the government for 50 years or more.  Both they and AUC draft child soldiers as young as 8 years old.  The civil war is vicious and cruel. Both sides use torture and profit from sale of narcotics.
The book is an autobiography of an ex AUC soldier whose name has been changed.  It starts with Pedro joining the AUC after FARC murders his father in front of him.  At the end of the book peace is declared by all sides.  According to news stories, the peace has held up for several years, but FARC has recently complained of unfair treatment.
One quote by Pedro:  "To someone who has not had a parent stolen from them, I can only attempt to explain how t feels.  It's like having part of yourself hacked off without warning."
Thanks to Havelock & Baker Publishing for sending me this eARC through NetGalley.
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The fact and fiction in the coming of age story are blended perfectly by Rusty Young. You can tell he spent a lot of time researching Post-Pablo Escobar Columbia and he was not afraid to hold back in his writing to create an image the reader could not ignore. 

The vengeance that Pedro swears has him hunting down the men responsible for his father’s execution and it leads to him go deeper and deeper down the rabbit hole. Will he stop himself before he becomes as bad as the men who killed his father? or will his passion and drive for revenge cost him all he has left? 

The story that Young creates is breath-taking, believable, action-packed and addictive. It’s a large book but he just has a lot to say and he is saying things that people want to hear. His story opens the door to many issues that people want to keep shut and I commend him for this.
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I wish I could give half stars.  This is truly 4.5 stars.  This book is long and truly out of my genre.  I enjoyed it.  

Pedro has to learn to come to age, grow physically and emotionally with life, war, death, love etc.

I can relate to part of Pedro’s journey- love, death but not war.  I think I’m general most can.

The struggle of war torn country is something I can not fathom.  The living in fear of check points, the fear of whom do I talk to and who do I not because it will place my life and my family’s life in danger.

Pedro does what any young boy thinks is right- he tries to fix what he thinks he did wrong and try to fix the consequences that occurred.... he grows and learns it’s not always an eye for eye- that some people are not who you think they are... 

I would recommend this book, even if it’s not your normal genre.
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Colombiano

Pedro Gutierrez’s story fills all the 700 pages of this book. . . .and starts movie-like with the sleepy happy village, and a tender father and son scene. Within a few pages, the father is executed before his son’s eyes, and we are *Off* to the races in this tale of all the ways revenge doesn’t win. Every so often there is girlfriend sex which accomplishes ?calm? what we are working for? But the rest of the revenge romp is filled with incredibly difficult things that happen to everyone else: villagers trapped in cross-hairs of the haters, pimple-faced youngsters, six-year old girls, groups whose heads are literally later used as footballs, and one of the final catches – an old villain who thought blowing up a pond of vampire fish is more wicked than all the torture, rape and murders he’s inflicted on this tale. Still, our Pedro returns home, chastened, finishing up his last year in high school. He apologizes to Mama, explains why he wasn’t the reason his Papa died (this makes it better?), he gets his girl (he will have to lose the tattoo), and impliedly, the blue crate he digs up with a friend has the millions of the one of the bad guys he’s murdered.

All is well in the land.

Hmfph! 1 star is as far as I can go.

A sincere thanks to Rusty Young, Havelock & Baker Publishing, and NetGalley for providing me an e-ARC in exchange for an honest review.
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Columbiano is a fast paced thriller about 15 year old Pedro Gutierrez who witnesses the execution of his father by ruthless Guerrilla soldiers.  Like many other child soldiers in Columbia he joins opposing forces to seek retribution for his father’s death.

The book is well researched and very informative.  Rusty Young shows this world of violence, crime, corruption, and drugs through his own experiences in Columbia.  I would have liked to see the book with far less pages.  

3 out of 5 stars

Many thanks to Lily Green at Havelock & Baker Publishing and NetGalley for the ARC of Columbiano in exchange for an honest review.
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Unique flavor. Interesting concept. Powerful plot.
I'll be another one for the dissenters as I just wasn't into this one for the sake of the way it was structured and the tone it portrayed.
I kept waiting for the shoe to drop and nothing really tickled my fancy till the end as Rusty vowed that those who were wronged would have their voices heard among the senseless violence.
So, when Pedro took arms after his father was executed, he took to the streets against the powerful Guerilla's.
His do or die attitude was contagious and dare I say exciting but for me it lacked something that was hard to place.
As it's a fine line to not become the same monster that you're hunting.
A good read but not sure if it's one that will be well received by all.
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One of the most compelling novels of our time. A must-read given the circumstances and political climate of our world today. Written expertly by a journalist who strives to put reality into personal terms we can all understand. Giving the reader more than a glimpse into the struggles and motivations of many families searching for a better life, it encourages thought and leads one into a more complete understanding and compassionate mindset. Essential for anyone seeking to explore more of a world view and less insular way of choosing principles to live by, and lead byxexample.

Being a voracious reader, I also have to say that this is also one of the cleanest edits I have seen in the last 20 years. One does not find typos, errors in punctuation or syntax, ior nconsistencies in continuity of format. This speaks exceedingly well of both writer and publisher.  Well done!
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This book was so far out of my comfort zone that I wasn't sure I should read it, but I'm so very glad I did. The author, Rusty Young, did an excellent job of making the character, Pedro, someone I cared about. I wanted to know what was going to happen to Pedro, his friends, family, and the other people in his life. 

Until I read this book, then watched some videos and read other material, I had very little understanding about the massive use of children to fight civil wars in Columbia. This story deals with two terrorist groups that use thousands of children to fight their wars, children that are forced to watch and participate in torture and murders. Once in these organizations, these children have no real hope of escaping, except by death. Everyday brings a new chance to watch those around them endure brutality or death by those who rule their lives. 

Men's lust for power and money drive these wars and cocaine fuels the war machine. Townsfolk live in poverty and fear as both sides reign terror on the people, sometimes pretending to protect or help them while really using humans as fodder for their greed and brutality. Once I started reading, I did not want to put this book down. Not only did I learn what might cause children to think their only hope might be to join a terrorist group, I also was able to see that possibly even the worst of the barbarian soldiers, once had to face such decisions, as children, to save their own lives or the lives of their families.

Pedro and his mother and father live on their small farm and have managed to stay out of the fray as much as they can until finally Pedro and his dad anger one of the factions. Pedro's dad is murdered in front of Pedro and his mother and Pedro vows to kill the men who were involved in his father's death, the same men who forbid Pedro and his mother to bury his father or ever set foot on their farm again. Pedro joins the other terrorist group, which claims it's helping the people by fighting the guerrilla group. It's only later, once there is no turning back, that Pedro knows that he's trapped in a organization that is as brutal as the one that killed his father. Yet the desire for revenge keeps Pedro finding excuses to "soldier" on, often becoming what he hates most. 

This is such a heartrending story and it's based in fact. It's hard enough imagining grownups seeing and enduring such horrible cruelty but knowing that children are thrown into this world and expected to live and perpetuate more horror on others, is horrifying. How do they come back from this, if they ever have a chance to do so? 

 I want to thank NetGalley and Lily with Havelock & Baker Publishing for providing this ARC to me.
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Colombiano has been on my TBR list ever since it was first published in Australia in 2017. Having majored in Latin American studies in college I have long been interested the internecine struggles that have for decades been taking place in Colombia between the narcotraffickers, the military, the communist revolutionaries and the right-wing paramilitary militias. 

Rusty Young is an ideal author to tell this story. An Australian journalist who has lived for in Colombia for eight years, part of which was spent working secretly for the US government doing counter-terrorism and anti-kidnapping work. In his work he spent many months interviewing former child soldiers on both sides of the conflict. Although earning their trust was particularly challenging, Young was able to do so and heard many accounts of their lives which he borrowed from to create this very engaging novel. 

The book tells the story of Pedro Gutiérrez, the fifteen-year old son of a farmer who lives on a finca near a small village that lies between the strongholds of the government forces and communist guerillas. When guerillas attack their farm and force Pedro to watch the execution of his father, he vows revenge and joins the right-wing paramilitary forces. What follows is a heartbreaking description of life in a world ruled by whoever has the biggest guns. I enjoyed Colombiano very much. My only criticism, and it is minor, is that parts of it read like the a young adult novel. This is not surprising seeing as the majority of the characters are young adults but in places it lacked nuance giving the story a fictional flavor that a story based on actual events shouldn’t have. 

* The review was based on an advanced reading copy obtained at no cost from the publisher in exchange for an unbiased review. While this does take any ‘not worth what I paid for it’ statements out of my review, it otherwise has no impact on the content of my review.

FYI: On a 5-point scale I assign stars based on my assessment of what the book needs in the way of improvements:
*5 Stars – Nothing at all. If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.
*4 Stars – It could stand for a few tweaks here and there but it’s pretty good as it is.
*3 Stars – A solid C grade. Some serious rewriting would be needed in order for this book to be considered great or memorable.
*2 Stars – This book needs a lot of work. A good start would be to change the plot, the character development, the writing style and the ending. 
*1 Star – The only thing that would improve this book is a good bonfire. 

https://www.goodreads.com/review/show/2314994912
http://www.librarything.com/work/20059926/summary/175907897
https://www.amazon.com/review/RT9PP0TZGD07U/ref=pe_1098610_137716200_cm_rv_eml_rv0_rv
Also posted on Amazon
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When it is snowy and cold outside, superspeed readers like me can read 150 - 200+ pages/hour, so yes, I have read the book … and many more today. LOL

I requested and received a temporary digital Advance Reader Copy of this book from #NetGalley, the publisher and the author in exchange for an honest review.  

From the publisher, as I do not repeat the contents or story of books in reviews, I let them do it as they do it better than I do 😸.

From Rusty Young, author of the international bestseller MARCHING POWDER comes his long-awaited novel.

Blending fact and fiction, Colombiano is a heart-thumping journey into the violent and unpredictable world of post-Escobar Colombia.

For four years Rusty Young worked secretly for the US government in Colombia. During this time he was shocked by the stories of child soldiers he encountered. He vowed that one day he would turn their tales into a book and let their voices be heard.

In Colombia, you have to pick a side. Or one will be picked for you . . .

All Pedro Gutiérrez cares about is fishing, playing pool and his girlfriend Camila’s promise to sleep with him on his sixteenth birthday. But his life is ripped apart when his father is callously executed in front of him by Guerrilla soldiers and he and his mother are banished from their farm.

Vowing vengeance against the five men responsible, Pedro joins an illegal Paramilitary group with this best friend, Palillo, where he is trained to fight, kill and crush any sign of weakness.

But as he descends into a world of unspeakable violence, Pedro must decide how far he is willing to go. Can he stop himself before he becomes just as ruthless as those he is hunting? Or will his dark obsession cost him all he loves?

Both blockbuster thriller and electrifying coming-of-age story, Rusty Young’s powerful novel is also a meditation on the redeeming power of love.

This was a shocking yet enjoyable book about child soldiers and trying to survive in a country where one has to literally fight for their life. The characters are fascinating and the story expertly constructed to keep you enthralled from page one to last. My only complaint, per se, is that the child soldier on the cover looks to be about 6 - 8 years old, not a 16 year old: if I bought the book I would assume that it was a little boy, not a teenager.  It is also a very long book ... it took time even for this supersonic reader so the reader should be prepared for a very long relationship with this book.
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I found that Palillo Hernandez could be fairly arrogant - though there did come a period where he grew out of that a bit. This was a book that was quite well done, and I'm glad that there was a period where things settled down a little bit.
I got a copy in exchange for an honest review.
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This novel mixes a bit of both fact and fiction, revenge, corruption, cocaine, and betrayal. This is the violent world that Pedro lives in.

When his grandfather is executed in his presence, he and his mother are banished from their home.

Swearing vengeance against the five men responsible, Pedro, with his best friend, Palillo, joins an illegal Paramilitary group, where he is trained to fight, kill and crush any sign of weakness.

This is quite a story .. it's an extremely long read, but truly worth reading. It's a page-turning, action packed, story of a boy's becoming a man... a man who will have to make some hard decisions. Will he become as violent and vicious as those he is hunting? Is there a line to be crossed?

The author has done his research thoroughly in creating an epic novel with credible characters. I was captivated from the very first page to the very last.

4.5 stars

Many thanks to the author / Havelock & Baker Publishing / Netgalley for the digital copy of this incredible novel. Read and reviewed voluntarily, opinions expressed here are unbiased and entirely my own.
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Colombiano is a big book, I mean that in more than one way. First of all, it is physically massive (I actually read it on my kindle, but the dots to show the length of the book and how far you've got through it spread across the whole screen). But it also deals with some very large events. The story itself is based on the stories that Rusty Young was told when interviewing ex-child soldiers. I don't know how much of it is 'real' and how much is fiction, it all felt very real.
The book itself, despite its length, is easy to read. I mean that in the sense that the chapters are very short. The story is so engaging that it's a good thing. Short chapters meant that you can keep reading just one more, while longer chapters would have been more likely to make me wait until I actually had time to read. Told from the point of view of Pedro, who witnesses his father's murder and sets out to gain what he claims is justice, but is actually revenge, we follow him as he progresses through the ranks of the Autodefensas. The things that Pedro witnesses and overtime is more of a part of, are brutal. This is a dirty gorilla war, brutality is expected. The confronting part of this book is that as we are following Pedro on his journey, we can't help but sympathise with his situation and why he does something. More than once I found myself rooting for him only to wonder how I could even for a second buy into what was happening.
I came into this knowing next to nothing about Columbia beyond the thoughts of cocaine, coffee and South America. I don't know that I 'know' much more now, but it's certainly a country that I would like to know more about. I hope that over time its wounds can be healed and its people find peace. Especially the likes of Pedro and his friends and enemies who lost their childhood to horror and bloodshed.
I received a complimentary copy of this book through NetGalley. Opinions expressed in this review are completely my own.
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Colombiano, a book with over 800 pages... but I liked every one of it. The chapters were short, so it was easy to take a break. Usually, in a book with short chapters, I am often tempted to read 'one more chapter'. In this case, I liked the breaks because they gave me the opportunity to take it all in. Because what I read, was often gruesome, emotional, heartbreaking. Pedro's story begins at age 15, when his father was killed before his eyes, and he and his mother are driven from their farm. Pedro joins the Autodafensas in the first place because he wants revenge for his father's death, but also because he wants to survive. The autodafensas give him the security of a group he belongs to (although he needs to go through a lot before he earns their protection), and they pay him, so that he can buy necessities for himself and send money to his mother.
The book describes the two years Pedro and his friends are with the Autodafensas. During this time, from a child, Pedro becomes a man who has many responsibilities, kills when he is in danger or encounters an enemy, and in the mean time tries to be loyal to his friends.
And this is Columbia...war, drugs, corrupt politics, Guerrilla, Autodafensas, people being robbed, killed, disappearing...what a country to live in!

The story Rusty Young tells us, is put together from all the interviews he had with child soldiers and other people. He describes very well the horrors these kids had to live through, while they were sort of getting used to it and even being proud of their status. This is a story that will stay with me!

Many thanks to Lily from Havelock and Baker Publishing who provided this ebook in exchange for my honest review.
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