...this is is a book that demanded to be written, not only to mark the lives lost in Burundi and Rwanda, but also to show the way in which violence can take hold of a nation ... captures the physical, social, sensual and political reality of Burundi as seen through the eyes of a boy who wants to maintain his innocence.
...[a] standard coming-of-age material, until, in an escalation of the feud between the country’s majority Hutu and minority Tutsi populations, the president is assassinated, sparking civil war and – across the border in Rwanda – genocide ... But a narrator with limited insight should be more than simply a problem to work around...Faye seems to squander the dramatic potential that a child’s point of view might bring ... This sharp shock of a novel implies that, amid terrifying social breakdown, innocence isn’t easily claimed, as the narrator’s memories turn confessional and he becomes a participant in the violence.
The Tutsi-Hutu violence, the notion of identity to a biracial child, and the impossible choices of those living in troubled territories are all explored in a straightforward style befitting a young narrator. ...presents a world where there are no easy demarcations of good and evil, sane and insane, or pure and corrupted ... capturing the full impact of social and political disintegration.