The Bite of the Mango
Book Author: Mariatu Kamara, Susan McClelland
Summary reviewed by:
Bachelor of Arts (BA), University Of California, Santa Barbara 2019
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The Bite of the Mango: Summary
"Innocence torn apart by unimaginable horrors, yet hope refuses to yield in 'The Bite of Mango'." The captivating memoir by Mariatu Kamara unveils her tumultuous journey through Sierra Leone's brutal civil war - a saga of unimaginable suffering and inspiring resilience that is bound to shake you to your core. Kamara, a mere twelve-year-old when the atrocity unfolded, depicts the grim realities of war, child soldiers, and the unimaginable act of violence that left her both physically and emotionally scarred, yet unbowed.
Her peaceful rural life was shattered as her village was invaded by Revolutionary United Front (RUF) rebels, turning a lush childhood haven into a horrific war zone overnight. In a cruel encounter that becomes the turning point of her life, Kamara is savagely attacked, her hands hacked off, forcing her to confront unimaginable terror and pain. But it is her encounter with a woman who gives her a mango - symbolic of life’s sweetness amidst the bitter struggle - that sustains her spirit and will to live.
Relocating to Freetown, Kamara descends into a hell of another kind - begging on the streets, vulnerable, and stigmatized by her disfigurement. Her harrowing struggle for survival, however, is only matched by her unyielding determination to regain her dignity and chart a new course for her life.
Mariatu's story takes a dramatic turn when she is brought to Canada as a refugee. Far from the familiar landscapes of her homeland, she grapples with a new culture and language, the shock of abundance, the challenge of education, and her deeply entrenched traumas. However, Kamara doesn't merely survive but thrives, turning her personal tragedy into a beacon of hope for others.
"The Bite of Mango" is not just a memoir of a war survivor; it is the life-affirming journey of a woman who chose resilience over despair, hope over surrender, and transformed her brutal past into an empowering future.
The Bite of the Mango
Date Published: September 12, 2008
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The Bite of the Mango: Genres
The Bite of the Mango: Main Characters
Mariatu Kamara: The protagonist and narrator of the memoir, Kamara embodies resilience and courage. Despite enduring unspeakable violence and loss, her spirit remains unbroken. Her values, such as perseverance and optimism, are evident when she refuses to let her physical condition determine her fate, embarking on a journey of self-discovery and empowerment in Canada.
The Bite of the Mango: Themes
Resilience and Survival: Throughout the book, Kamara’s spirit of survival is the backbone of her narrative. Despite the severe trauma of losing her hands, she continues to fight and adapt, whether begging in the streets of Freetown or navigating life in Canada.
Hope Amidst Despair: The theme of hope is symbolized by the mango, a reminder of life’s sweetness amidst bitter circumstances. Mariatu’s acceptance of the mango signifies her decision to choose hope over surrendering to despair.
The Impact of War: The book provides a firsthand account of the harrowing realities of the Sierra Leone Civil War – the loss of life, the brutalities inflicted by child soldiers, and the long-term psychological and physical effects on survivors.
Transformation and Empowerment: Kamara’s journey from a victim of war to a symbol of strength and resilience highlights the transformative power of human spirit. Her active involvement in advocating for children affected by war underlines her personal growth and empowerment.