The Bite of the Mango

The astounding story of one girl’s journey from war victim to UNICEF Special Representative.As a child in a small rural village in Sierra Leone, Mariatu Kamara lived peacefully surrounded by family and friends. Rumors of rebel attacks were no more than a distant worry.But when 12-year-old Mariatu set out for a neighboring village, she never arrived. Heavily armed rebel soldiers, many no older than children themselves, attacked and tortured Mariatu. During this brutal act of senseless violence they cut off both her hands.Stumbling through the countryside, Mariatu miraculously survived. The sweet taste of a mango, her first food after the attack, reaffirmed her desire to live, but the challenge of clutching the fruit in her bloodied arms reinforced the grim new reality that stood before her. With no parents or living adult to support her and living in a refugee camp, she turned to begging in the streets of Freetown.In this gripping and heartbreaking true story, Mariatu shares with readers the details of the brutal attack, its aftermath and her eventual arrival in Toronto. There she began to pull together the pieces of her broken life with courage, astonishing resilience and hope.

See the review at WOW Review, Volume 3, Issue 4

6 thoughts on “The Bite of the Mango

  1. Paula M. Mintle says:

    What is fate? Who determines our destiny? Is it providence? These are open ended questions that can be used in teaching using the book, The Bite of the Mango. Students should be taught critical thinking skills. This book has a number of lessons: history, genocide, survival, cultural awareness, customs, resources, vocabulary words and identity. It is in discovering similarities and differences about people around the world that open the minds of the readers.The life lessons learned were their customs are revealed, appreciation for her enviroment and the choices she made were contingent on the resources available.

  2. Genny O'Herron says:

    Living in the U.S., it is easy to forget about the Mariatus of this world. In this book, the campaign of violence used in Sierra Leone’s civil war is exposed for what it was: senseless, systematic, and brutal beyond human comprehension. And yet Mariatu does help us comprehend the tragic consequences of the recipe that is poverty, repression, greed and domination—a reality that we in overdeveloped countries tend to ignore or deny. Mariatu’s story also highlights a resiliency and indomitable spirit that we would do well to remember, with care not to romanticize. From reading Mariatu’s story, students can learn about an important piece of world history, as well as the healing power of sharing one’s story (whether that be one’s private story, the story of one’s people or county, or the universal story of suffering). We can ask our students—what voices do you hear in this story … what are they telling you?

  3. Jennifer Buntjer says:

    Brilliant.
    This book haunted me with questions.
    I am begging to address and explored the concept of the western “savior” politically, socially, globally, and internationally. Fascinating personal and classroom experience to view all the differing perspectives.

  4. Mae Busch says:

    Mariatu’s story is amazing and unforgettable. She survived a horrific attack on her village in Sierra Leone,and experienced what no child should ever have to. She pleaded with the rebel soldiers, who were shockingly only children themselves. They showed no mercy and brutally chopped off her hands. Mariatu’s courage and great will to live led her to Freetown and her fate.

    Mariatu was fortunate to have been interviewed by journalists. Her tragic and heartbreaking story was read by many, which eventually led to her immigration. She traveled to England, and later settled in Canada.

    Mariatu’s story is a must read for teens and adults of all ages. We must not forget the wars that continue throughout our world. Please visit her website to learn more!

  5. Breshaun Joyner says:

    How much is too much? How much pain must a child suffer in the name of political and civil war? How much suffering can one girl endure and what’s the point? These are a few of the questions that inevitably arise when reading The Bite of the Mango.

    This book painfully illustrates the power of perseverance especially when it emanates from a twelve year old girl. Mariatu Kamara found herself not just in the wrong place at the wrong time. It was more like in the wrong country at the wrong time. When rebels continued their trek across the country cutting a swath of mutilation, rape, and murder, Mariatu gets caught in the cross hairs of civil war. She finds herself on the sharp end of a machete, losing her hands to brutal soldiers who are only children themselves.

    Within the next 170 or so pages, Mariatu tells her tale of survival in the face of seemingly insurmountable odds to eventually emerge as a capable and resilient spokesperson for the plight of child victims of war. Eloquently told, she weaves of story of a girl living the life of a tortured adult. She must face responsibilities she did not solicit nor desire and does so while coming of age and coming to terms with her existence.

    At times heart wrenching and difficult to continue, it is a story of redemption, hope and ultimate triumph over a host of horrific events that would cripple, literally and metaphorically, the average person. Mariatu Kamara is not average. Neither is her story.

  6. A unique book about Mariatu Kamara, a young girl from Sierra Leone from a poor village that was attacked by the RUF guerillas. This true story tells of how she had her arms chopped off along with many other poor people when the guerillas entered and destroyed villages. For many, the bloodshed was much worse. A survival story, Mariatu made her way alone to the capital Freetown, where she was treated, and begged on the street for money. Later, she goes first to England and then Canada due to the many Westerners adopting and helping victims of this tragic period of this countries recent history. Mariatu learns English, and attends school in Toronto. She tells her story countless times to journalists, and ultimately meets the president of her home country in the fight for human rights against further abuses of the people there and worldwide. It is a powerful book, intertwined with a typical girl coming of age in adolescence, and all that this typically entails. Mariatu is now a UNICEF Special Representative for Children and Armed Conflict. She gives regular speaking engagements now that she can speak English.

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