Nick Lake is the much-acclaimed author of In Darkness, winner of the Michael L. Printz Award, and Hostage Three, which received three starred reviews and was named a Publishers Weekly, School Library Journal, and Boston Globe Best Book of the Year. Nick became fascinated by Haitian culture while pursuing his master's degree in linguistics. He is also the Publishing Director for fiction at HarperCollins Children's Books UK, and lives near Oxford, England. Visit him online at www.in-darkness.org and on Twitter at @nicklakeauthor.
Gr 9 Up-Trapped in the rubble of Haiti's massive 2010 earthquake, teenage Shorty desperately waits for rescue. While in darkness, events of his traumatic, violent life replay in his head. He is haunted by his father's brutal murder, his twin sister's disappearance, and the armed gang activity that has been his means of survival in Site Soley (Cite Soleil), a very real and dangerous slum. As he faces death and struggles to understand the external forces that have shaped him, Shorty gradually feels the uplifting spiritual presence of revered slave liberator Toussaint L'Ouverture and draws strength and hope from the man's extraordinary life, determination, and idealism. The pervasive Haitian voodoo belief in spirit transfer empowers Shorty and connects him with Touissant across time. In alternating chapters of "Now" and "Then," Shorty's and Toussaint's stories unfold. The relentless oppression, poverty, violence, and instability of the country is vividly conveyed through Shorty's stark, graphic narrative. Toussaint's story provides historical background for the socioeconomic and political conflicts that continue today. As the author notes, he portrays the essential spirit and history of Touissant with some omissions and simplifications. For example, Touissant learned to read as a boy, and not late in life, but this factual inaccuracy does not diminish the account of his charisma and significance. The entangled actions of gangs and government, the complicated relationship between Haitians and foreign-aid organizations, and the rich mix of Creole and French patois provide insight and authenticity. A striking cast of characters, compelling tension as Shorty confronts his own death, and the reality and immediacy of Haiti's precarious existence will captivate secondary readers.-Gerry Larson, formerly at Durham School of the Arts, NC (c) Copyright 2012. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
"A vivid and unforgettable voice ... incredibly moving." --The Times"Unputdownable" --Daily Mail"Gripping ... beautifully subtle." --New York Times"Both violent and subtle, unexpectedly reminding me of The Wire. Characters, settings, and the half-believed Haitian vodou religion are handled with patience and complexity ... A serious, nuanced, challenging novel. Trust me, there are plenty of young readers who hunger for exactly that." --Patrick Ness, Guardian"Remarkable ... Lake's elegant, restrained prose and distinct characters will reward adults and older teenagers able to brave a story with strong language, harrowing scenes of brutality and an almost painful stab of joy at the end." --Wall Street Journal