In Haiti, the Site Soley is one of the poorest and most dangerous slums in existence today. Residents in the area often are starving and have little or no access to formal education, hospitals or even proper running water. Formal government does not exist within the Site Soley, and the area is ruled by violent gangs that distribute weapons and guns. It is truly a terrifying existence and one that only has gotten worse since the devastating earthquake of 2010.
In Darkness follows the parallel stories of “Shorty,” a Haitian teenager who is trapped in a hospital following an earthquake, and Toussaint l’Ouverture, the leader of the rebellion that freed the slaves and forced the French out of Haiti. Shorty grew up in the Site Soley and has been exposed to violence at young age. Finding few options, he becomes wrapped up in gang life which is how he ends up in the hospital. Toussaint was born into slavery but educated himself and became a great leader.
Nick Lake has done an extraordinary job providing his readers with access into the lives of people who live in one of the most impoverished areas of the world. Lake also does a great job of highlighting Haiti’s difficult and often tragic history by providing the perspectives of both Shorty and Toussaint who, while existing centuries apart, face similar adversities—violence, corruption and devastation. While it certainly is a difficult and emotional read, it is certainly worth reading.
Review by Maddie, CLP-Squirrel Hill