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YA Review: Let's Go Swimming on Doomsday by Natalie C. Anderson

Title: Let's Go Swimming on Doomsday
Author: Natalie C. Anderson
Year Published: 2019

Genre: YA fiction 
Pages: 447
Rating: 4.5 out of 5

Location (my 2019 Google Reading map): Somalia and Kenya, USA (ID)

FTC Disclosure: I bought this book with my own money

Summary (from the inside flap of the book): Sixteen-year-old Abdi thought the worst had already happened when his older brother Dahir was kidnapped by Al Shabaab militants and forced to become a child soldier. But three years later, it's Dahir's standing as a trusted member of the terrorist organization that gets the rest of his family abducted by a callous CIA operative. The price of their release: infiltrate A Shabaab as a spy and gather information on the next planned attack.

Counting on his brother's help, he plunges into the world of militants, only to find that Dahir has now become Khalid, a true believer, and Abdi revealing himself as a spy could backfire with deadly consequences.

Abdi's only path forward is to get the Americans the information they want by earning the trust of Al Shabaab's leaders. But this means doing terrible things he never imagined himself capable of. Worse, he soon discovers the next planned attack has his brother donning a suicide bomber's vest. To keep Dahir and the rest of his family alive, Abdi hatches a risky plan that will cost him much more than just his own life if he fails.

Review: I like that the title of this book doesn't make any sense until about half way through the story and then it takes on significant meaning. I devoured this book in just 2 days, learning so much along the way about Somalia, refugees, Al Shabaab, and the lives of the boys who are kidnapped to join the terrorist organization. I love it when I learn through a novel.

Anderson also wrote The City of Saints and Thieves, which I also enjoyed. Enjoyed is such a strange word to use for both of these books as they are certainly not easy, happy, and light. Somalia's story in regards to Al Shabaab and their ongoing terror attacks are devastating. The young boys and girls who are pulled into their circles are used as wives, servants, and killers, all in the name of Islam. I hope that readers know that this is not the true Islam, but one called upon by crazy egomaniacal men.

I so badly wanted the characters I met while reading this book to survive, to be okay, and to get help. And the American CIA agent just didn't give me confidence. I am glad the author chose to show the role of the United States in Somalia, both as a "helper" and a hinderance.

This novel has a good story, sympathetic characters, and held me in its grasp from page one.

Challenges for which this counts: 

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