Monday, May 11, 2009

Chanda's Secrets by Allan Stratton

A few years ago, some former students and I decided to do an 'online' book club. We decided we would read a book and just chat about it through email. This was the first book we chose.

Chanda's Secrets is set in Africa and deals with the AIDS epidemic happening there. Many people in Africa are in denial about the severity of AIDS. Familes live in shame and hope that nobody ever finds out that they have had AIDS in the family. This story is simlar to The Breadwinner, although much more graphic.

16 year old Chanda remembers when she lived with her mom and dad, but her life has taken a turn for the worst. She is abused by one of her step-father's and is confronted with the horrible stigma attached to people with the AIDS virus through another step-father. Chanda is forced to give up her education in order to look after her younger brothers and sisters when her mom abandons the family. Chanda must face the harsh reality that not only does her mom have AIDS, but she may have AIDS as well.

I thought this book was incredibly powerful, but would need lots of conversation for many kids to understand the issues this book raises. There is some strong language as well.
A great picture book to go along with this is: The Remarkable Maria by Patti McIntosh.

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