Friday, May 15, 2009

REVIEW: Chanda's Secrets

Stratton, A.  (2008).  Chanda’s Secrets.  New York:  Annick Press.




 Set in an imaginary southern African country, Chanda manages preparing the funeral for her youngest sister, helping a best friend about whom rumors circulate, supporting a weakening mother, and watching many deal with a disease that affects many but remains stigmatized and unnamed.  Chanda juggles her secrets with a mix of fear, love and denial.  At the source of them all is AIDS, the unnamed killer.  

This well-written problem novel is penned by a Canadian author, but seems to realistically present the experience of living in southern Africa.  This book is emotional engaging and thought provoking.

Chanda's Secrets now has a sequel, Chanda's Wars.  Is it necessary?  Probably not.  But that hasn't stopped many other author from writing a continuation to a successful and award winning book.  


Activities to do with the book:


With young adult students, a teacher could emphasize the images and themes of being trapped or in a social prison. 

A teacher could supplement parts of this book (particularly chapter 12) with statistics about AIDS internationally.  You could start here, here or here. 



Favorite Quotes:


“I’m alone in the office of Bateman’s Eternal Light Funeral Services.  It’s early Monday morning and Mr. Bateman is busy with a new shipment of coffins” (p. 1).


“A shock?  Sara [Chanda’s little sister] was alive two hours ago.  She was cranky all night because of her rash.  Mama rocked her through dawn, till she stopped whining.  At first we thought she’d just fallen asleep.  (God, please forgive me for being angry with her last night.  I didn’t mean what I prayed.  Please let this not be my fault.)” (p. 3).


“Save your anger to fight injustice.  Forgive the rest” (p. 31).


“The real reason the dead are piling up is because of something else.  A disease too scary to name out loud.  If people say you have it, you can lose your job.  Your family can kick you out.  You can die on the street aloud.  So you live in silence, hiding behind the curtain.  Not just to protect yourself, but to protect the ones you love, and the good name of your ancestors.  Dying is awful.  But even worse is dying alone in fear and shame with a lie” (p. 35).

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