In Darkness by Nick Lake

This is a tale of two Haitis: today's Haiti tells a story of Soley 19 and Shorty's hazardous path through the ghetto, as he finds himself miraculously unscathed again and again. Yesterday's Haiti talks of Toussaint, the 54-year old slave who led a revolution against his master, and against the French overlords to take back Haiti for the blacks.

Shorty was born Marassa: two halves of a whole. His twin Marguerite is his motivation. Together they are powerful, in Haiti that's serious maji. Marassa can heal, bring good luck, double your fortune, they share the same soul. Without her, he is only half a person. Since Boston, the rival gang, took her, he's been missing his other half.

Toussaint never asked to be the face of the revolution, but he knows that someone with restraint and strategy is necessary if they want to keep Haiti from burning to the ground. He tries to keep the freed slaves from senseless violence and destruction. He brings in educators to teach them how to read and write. He organizes them, and slowly they come to see him as a true leader.

Dread Wilme saved him from the soldiers, that's how he got recruited to Route 9. He was born in blood and darkness, as his mother always said. The MINUSTAH soldiers wanted to make an example, and they used Dread to do it. In a story that became a legend, full of bullet holes, Dread staggered and picked up Shorty, pulling him out of the way of the Humvee. That was the day he gave him his pwen, a stone that carried a god of protection, and the day Dread died.

After that, it didn't take much to recruit Shorty to the chimeres, the gangsters, the drug dealers. Biggie asked, and he said yes. He first killed a man when he was 12 years old. He was going to get Marguerite back, and this was the only way to do it.

Toussaint leads them as they face the colonists, he leads them as they face the French armies. His unwavering bravery and relentless spirit continue in the face of overwhelming odds. They say he has been possessed, he has taken in the Iwa of War into himself to bring freedom to Haiti.

What will become of Shorty? What will become of Toussaint and his men? The two men are connected in a magical way that Lake explains in fits and starts, through darkness and blood. The language is both poetic and street, capturing the feeling of the ghetto. The picture of Site Soley won't be one that leaves me any time soon. The whole story is woven with vodou and old ways, but in a way that doesn't mock their superstition. There isn't much hope for the kids growing up in the ghetto, but in spite of the darkness, sometimes there is light.
"I was born in blood and darkness. That's how Manman told it, when I joined Route 9, when I started to roll with Biggie.
--He was born in blood and darkness, and that's how he'll die, the houngan told her.
Maybe she was right. Maybe I will die in blood and darkness. Maybe she would be happy if she saw me here.
Probably not," (Lake pg. 14, 2012).
*Library Link*

If you liked this, check out:
This Thing Called the Future by J.L. Future
Never Fall Down Patricia McCormick
Code Name Verity Elizabeth Wein

Lake, Nick. (2012). In Darkness. New York: Bloomsbury.

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