“Sensible commanders always grab whatever weapons are easiest at hand, and no weapon is easier to get or control than children.” – Former Burundi Commander
This is a powerful quote at the beginning of Allan Stratton’s novel, Chanda’s Wars. Chanda’s Wars follows a young girl recently orphaned by the death of her mother and left to take care of her two younger siblings. Struggling to keep her family and herself together, Chanda decides to try to put aside an old family feud and she takes her siblings to a remote rural village where they still have some relatives. The village however, is close to the border where a civil war is brewing. Rebels led by General Mandiki are attacking under cover of darkness and are stealing children for their cause. When both of her siblings are kidnapped, Chanda, with the help of a young tracker named Nelson, risks everything to find the rebels and rescue them.
A very powerful story in both its subject and its research. Stratton’s research gives immense authenticity to the psyche of the child soldiers he portrays and what it’s like for a young person caught in the middle of a devastating war.
Chanda’s Wars can be read individually, but it was written as a follow-up to Chanda’s Secrets because Stratton wanted to know what would happen to his characters. This is a teen novel that adults should read too.