In Darkness

Lake, Nick

Book - 2012
Average Rating: 3.5 stars out of 5.
In Darkness
In the aftermath of the Haitian earthquake, fifteen-year-old Shorty, a poor gang member from the slums of Site Soleil, is trapped in the rubble of a ruined hospital, and as he grows weaker he has visions and memories of his life of violence, his lost twin sister, and of Toussaint L'Ouverture, who liberated Haiti from French rule in the 1804.

Published: New York : Bloomsbury, 2012.
ISBN: 1599907437
Branch Call Number: YA LAK
Characteristics: 341 p. ;,21 cm.


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Feb 07, 2014
  • Sunflower19 rated this: 5 stars out of 5.

I read this book for the teen book club I run...I really enjoyed the two narrators and I learned a little about Haiti! This novel won an award and I understand why, but I don't know how many teens would be interested in reading this novel...
A lot of powerful emotions and it left images in my head that I doubt I will be able to remove anytime soon.

Sep 16, 2013
  • snicholson76 rated this: 4 stars out of 5.

If you're looking for a book with some meat on its bones worthy of discussion, then this is an excellent choice!

Jul 02, 2013
  • JCLChrisK rated this: 5 stars out of 5.

A dystopia.
In the middle of reading this, I started seeing it as a dark, bleak dystopian tale. Not in the typical sense--it's not set in the future and isn't so speculative, after all--but for those of us not part of the setting it functions in many of the same ways. Except that it's bleaker, more disturbing, and more cautionary than the average dystopia because it's real.
Not only is In Darkness set in Haiti, unlike the standard tale of the category I've assigned to it the story is set in the past. Shorty's tale is set in the recent past; as he lies in the darkness under a collapsed hospital following the massive earthquake of 2010 he reflects, in flashback, upon his life that has led to that point, how his desperate struggle to survive in one of the world's poorest slums led him to becoming a very stained person.
The alternating chapters, set in the more distant past, tell Toussaint l'Ouverture's tale as he goes from being a slave on a remote island controlled by France to a revolutionary leader fighting to make his people free, how he became a legendary figure of Haiti's founding as an independent nation.
Even though their stories are set centuries apart, Shorty and Toussaint are connected by more than their setting. In a bit of what we literary types who like to categorize things call magic realism, based on the rituals, beliefs, and traditions of the people of Haiti, Shorty and Toussaint possess each other. Shorty dreams Toussaint's story while he lays there in the dark, and Toussaint has visions of Shorty's future with us as we discover his past. They become--they are--the same person.
Shorty's grim future is not one that Toussaint always finds inspiring. Shorty, though. Shorty experiences in Toussaint something he's never known, a view that changes his own perspective.
Like all dystopias, this one is based on hope.

Feb 13, 2013
  • CRRL_AngelaCritics rated this: 5 stars out of 5.

In Darkness is set in Haiti immediately after the devastating earthquake of 2010. It is the story of Shorty, a boy who has grown up in a violent slum of Port-au-Prince called The Site. But Shorty's life is somehow interwoven with the spirit of Touissant l'Ouverture, visionary leader of Haiti's slave revolution of 1791 to 1803.

Shorty awakens in absolute darkness after the earthquake. As he waits and hopes for rescue, he recounts the story of his childhood. His has been a hard life. He has shot people and been shot. He describes a complex world, where in the wake of dysfunctional government and ineffective aid agencies, the only source of food, medical care and schooling for the people of the slums are the gangsters and drug traffickers who also perpetuate a culture of violence. The backdrop for Shorty's struggle to survive is Touissant's efforts to lead the slaves of Haiti to freedom. The two have much more in common than you would think.

This is, as you can guess by the title, a dark story. It provides a glimpse into the lives of those who live in one of the poorest and most violent areas of the world. The Site is a place where life is cheap and hope is in short supply. Violence and voudou are major themes in this story. But so are freedom, the nature of humanity, and the struggle to build a better life. Touissant works to build a prosperous and just society. Shorty is trying to find and rescue his missing twin sister. Be warned, this is an intense and disturbing book. But it is well worth reading.

Apr 16, 2012

In Darkness is a complex novel with a non-linear narrative that is both engaging and challenging. It paints a vivid picture of Haitian history and religion, crushing poverty, and day-to-day violence. The main character is by no means depicted as flawless and yet it is easy to feel incredibly attached to his story and his survival. Dark and haunting but not without hope, this masterfully woven look at life in a struggling Haiti will move adults and teens alike. Adult language and graphic violence, 14+.


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Jul 02, 2013
  • JCLChrisK rated this: 5 stars out of 5.

Haiti is on a fault line, you should understand that. It's like the whole country is cursed; we're on a crack in the world, and everything in Haiti is cracked, too. We're a broken country.

Feb 13, 2013
  • CRRL_AngelaCritics rated this: 5 stars out of 5.

In Darkness I count my blessings like Manman taught me.
One: I am alive,
Two: there is no two.


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