Title: War Brothers: The Graphic Novel
Author(s): Sharon E. McKay
Artist(s): Daniel Lefrance
Category: Based-On, War, Child Soldiers
Mature Content?: Violence, Implied Rape
Based on interviews conducted in Uganda, War Brothers: The Graphic Novel is a fictionalized account of child soldiers in Africa. McKay initially wrote the story as an award-winning novel before partnering with artist Daniel Lefrance to illustrate the graphic novel adaptation. War Brothers follows 14-year old Jacob as he’s abducted by the Lord’s Resistance Army with 37 other boys from a religious boarding school. Held hostage and eventually told to fight, Jacob and others experience a harrowing and traumatic look at the underbelly of war in Africa. After Jacob and some of his comrades make their escape, War Brothers also takes some time to look at what life is like after such an experience.
War Brothers has become a staple in many classrooms, offering a visceral experience and look at war, being a hostage, and the politics of Africa. While it has less to offer in political analysis, it does an excellent job of showing the often blurry line between victims and perpetrators. It offers strong conversation points about the role of gender in war, the place of religion and education, and how indoctrination works. By being both a graphic novel and a novel, it also offers multiple media and a wealth of additional resources. Especially in the language arts classroom, the postscript noting the therapeutic properties of writing makes this an excellent meta-text for memoir.