Wednesday, July 16, 2014

GOLDEN BOY by Tara Sullivan

Golden BoyHabo is thirteen and he lives in Mwanza, Tanzania.  His father left the family years ago, leaving his mother and siblings alone to scratch out a meager existence on their little farm.  Habo's job is to tend the goats.  He would like to help out more, but Habo can't stand even short amounts of time in the sun.  You see, Habo is albino.

Being an albino in Tanzania is not only difficult but also dangerous.  The constant hot sun is definitely a problem, but the attitude of the people is an even greater challenge.  Because no one understands why Habo is the way he is, his mother has been blamed for his oddities.  People speculate that his father was a white man or that his mother committed some other sin that caused his condition and brought the family bad luck.  Although his mother loves him, their relationship is distant as she tries to find ways to care for her children and keep the home together.

Unable to pay the landlord, Habo's mother announces that they will be moving to the city to live with an aunt.  His older brother will stay behind to finish the coffee harvest and join them later.  The move will be taking them to a much larger place where jobs will be more plentiful, however, Habo knows the move will also increase the likelihood of danger.

Habo must be kept in hiding at his aunt's house.  Unfortunately, a casual comment from his sister reveals his strange condition and an evil poacher attempts to kill Habo and sell his body parts as good luck medicine.  Habo knows the only recourse is to leave his family and head to the larger city of Dar es Salaam where life is not so dangerous for albinos.

In her final author's note Tara Sullivan writes of her fascination with the plight of albinos in Tanzania and surrounding countries.  After researching the horrible stories of dismemberment and other ways African medicine men used albinos, she was inspired to write this fictional account.  Habo's tale is at once horrific and inspiring as readers will follow the young teen on his journey to find a place that will accept him for who he is and appreciate the talents he has to offer.

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