cover image Unnatural Resources

Unnatural Resources

Mindy Uhrlaub. Permanent, $29.95 (204p) ISBN 978-1-57962-640-2

Therese, the 11-year-old heroine of Uhrlaub’s searing debut, lives quietly with her family in a lakeshore village near an urban center identified only as the City, in the Democratic Republic of Congo. One day, armed men arrive in her community, and shoot her father and cut him to pieces before her eyes. The soldiers take her mother and Felix, her nine-year-old brother and best friend, and burn the village to the ground. Therese herself is sexually assaulted by a man wearing a necklace made of human teeth. She manages to reach a United Nations unit and get medical treatment. At the UN hospital, Therese meets Robert, a rescued child soldier, who hands over a cryptic, blood-stained note from Felix reading simply, “I am here. Felix.” Therese dedicates herself to pursuing the slim lead the message provides and reuniting with Felix. Uhrlaub’s harrowing novel doesn’t spare readers the grim reality of children harmed by sadists. Readers who like their fiction with a conscience will want to take a look. (Oct.)