I bring up Ishmael Beah because he wrote the forward to Mariatuâ€™s book and also because one of the questions P. asked him when he was on his book tour a few years ago was why there werenâ€™t any accounts of the experiences of the female/girl child during the war in his book. He said he had purposefully left those out because he didnâ€™t think it was his story to tell. He later on mentioned half jokingly that maybe we could tell that story one day; I didnâ€™t have the heart to tell him that my memories of Sierra Leone were not of the horrors and atrocities of war. But this is Mariatuâ€™s story to tell and she tells it in her book (with Susan McClelland), The Bite of the Mango.
Iâ€™ve been meaning to write about this book for months, everyone in my family read this book months ago â€“ but I just couldnâ€™t seem to make time to read it.
My mom burst out laughing one afternoon while reading it â€“ this was a little disturbing to me, â€œWhy are you doing this? War is not funnyâ€ I said in mock horror.
Yes, this is a sad book, but itâ€™ll also make you laugh, itâ€™ll make you angry, itâ€™ll break your heart and make you cry but above all, itâ€™ll make you hopeful.
Itâ€™s Mariatuâ€™s story told effortlessly about her circumstance and life growing up when the war reached her village.
Thereâ€™s the barbaric and irrational act of violence that has left her without hands, a permanent physical reminder of the horrors sheâ€™s endured.
Thereâ€™s her having a baby when she was but a baby herself.
Itâ€™s a tale of what is undoubtedly the ugliness of war and the hard journey to reclaim oneself.
Itâ€™s a little about forgiveness and going back home.
Itâ€™s quite an easy read for book with such a hard theme.
It’s a little about happy endings too.
Now twenty-three years old, Mariatu lives in Toronto and is a UNICEF Special Representative for Children and Armed Conflict, she also runs the Mariatu Foundation.