Marginalized due to his albinism, thirteen-year-old Habo discovers it’s more dangerous to be seen as priceless than worthless when his family moves to Mwanza, Tanzania, and he must flee for his life from people who think his body parts are magical.
Though GOLDEN BOY is a work of fiction, it’s a compilation of the stories of real people, and it brings to light a modern human rights tragedy that is largely unknown. In Patricia McCormick’s SOLD, a similarly dehumanizing tragedy is brought to light and made hauntingly immediate through the eyes of Lakshmi.
Like Auggie in R.J. Palacio’s WONDER, Habo was born looking different from everyone in his family, everyone in his school, everyone in his village. His older sister, Asu, tries to protect him but, like WONDER’s Via, she can’t keep the world from hurting her brother.
Like Virginia in QUEEN OF WATER by Laura Resau & María Virginia Farinango, Habo struggles to see where he fits into the clear categories of the society around him. Neither the good brown of his family, nor the white of tourists, Habo has no word for himself until he arrives at Auntie’s house in Mwanza. Only there does he find out that he belongs in another category entirely: albino.
Like Raphael, Gardo, and Rat in Andy Mulligan’s TRASH, Habo also finds himself trapped in a deadly treasure hunt… but, in Habo’s case, the items that other people believe will bring them riches are the pieces of his own body. Seen as nothing more than a collection of good-luck talismans, Habo must flee for his life.
But fleeing for his life is only half the journey. Having been seen only as an aberration and an object, Habo must discover his true value and show his worth to others. Like Tree-Ear in Linda Sue Park’s A SINGLE SHARD, Habo needs to work to sculpt a new life and learn to love and accept himself.
If you enjoyed any of these books, I hope you’ll consider reading GOLDEN BOY!