We continue our occasional series previewing good reads for young adults from Katherine Farmer, Coordinator of the Racers Children's Preview Collection at Murray State University. This week's recommended read is In Darkness, by Nick Lake. Winner of the 2013 Printz Book Award, In Darkness is set in the aftermath of the 2010 earthquake that devastated Haiti, and follows the perspective of a 15 year-old boy trapped in the rubble of a hospital. Critics describe this young adult novel as "vivid and unforgettable, nuanced, and incredibly moving.
In Darkness by Nick Lake - 2013 Printz Winner
Ages 14 and up
Haiti. The only images that come to mind are that of poverty, violence, and disaster. Those images forge the backdrop for Nick Lake’s 2013 Printz award winning novel In Darkness. In January 2010, an earthquake destroyed the landscape of Haiti crippling an already devastated people. Shorty, a 15 year old gang member, is trapped in the rubble of a collapsed hospital grasping for life. As he waits for death or rescue, Shorty passes the time by remembering his life as a child in the violent slums and connecting psychically through voodoo with Toussaint L’Ouverture, the rebel salve leader and hero of the Haitian revolution.
In his memories, he recalls the violent slaying of his father, loss of his sister, his journey into criminal activity, and the violent struggle with other gangs , opponents of the government and the United Nations peacekeepers. Intertwined in his altered state, he sees Haiti through the eyes of L’Ouverture and witnesses the birth of Haiti. In a paradox of reality, L’Ouverture becomes aware of Shorty’s existence in his mind and that reality causes him to question the path he is on.
To discover more about Shorty’s violent life and the birth of a nation, read Nick Lake’s 2013 Printz award winning novel In Darkness.
Katherine Farmer is the Coordinator of the Racers Children's Preview Collection at Murray State University. See more good reads for young adults.