Monday, May 5, 2014

Golden Boy by Tara Sullivan

The age old ugly head of persecution rears its deformed head once again. Have you ever experienced prejudice while encountering a situation you have never experienced? Or even worse, in a place or situation where you are supposed to feel safe?

Habo, the protagonist of this story, lives in a poor village where someone who has albinism is considered a freak or unlucky. Yup, you guessed it, Habo is an albino. As such, he is marginalized and is treated as a second class citizen of his own village. the situation that Habo's white skin brings eventually land him and his family in a village far from where he was originally born. In this new village the body parts of albino's are considered lucky. Yeah you read that right, their body parts.
The members of this village kill individuals who are albinos and treasure their white skin as some sort of sick ivory. When an attempt is made at Habo's life, he decides that he must run away and live in the big city. Habo must struggle in this new city that holds opportunity but that also provides him with endeavors that will even threaten his life...

Before you continue, this video might be a good prelude.
This book was one that reflects events that have happened in the not too distant past. This is one of the strengths of this book in relation to a middle high school setting. The book takes on issues that occur openly and subtlety in a very specific region and explores how this issue affects individuals socially and economically. The strength of this book is that it is simplex while still retaining its accessible language. However, the book suffers from a slow start. It takes some time for the reader to sympathize for Habo, his story is presented in a detached manner and this causes the reader to feel ambivalent. I thought this was only my own reaction but after reading a review I realized my opinion was shared. The text does a good job of exploring philosophical ideas of morality and wether humans are naturally good or bad. In essence, this text could be used to explore current events. The fact that this text echoes a modern day crisis seems like it could be a point of interest to young readers. The author seemed to have this in mind when she wrote the book, check out an interview with her here.

I believe that this text should be included as a resource that students can read in relation to a lesson. I do not believe that this text should be read as a stand alone book in a lesson. It can, however, serve as a prelude to more difficult texts and ideas. This book, which is accessible, can be used to explore more complex themes of superstition, economics and culture.

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