by Allan Stratton
When Chanda’s Secrets starts out, Chanda is sitting in a Funeral Home. She is only 16 but her step-father is off drinking and her mother can’t seem to get herself up off the floor, so it is up to Chanda to arrange for a funeral for her baby sister.
The funeral home used to be a building supply store but lately in Chanda’s town there is “more money in death than in construction.”
If you think this is going to be one of those books where so many bad things keep happening to one person that it just isn’t believable, then you are right. Sorta. This story is fiction, so it is not true but it is based on a reality that is very true. That reality exists in sub-Saharan Africa where in some countries over 20% of the people have AIDS or are HIV positive. You can read a lot of books about the statistics about what is happening with this epidemic in Africa but they won’t tell you the story like this book does.
It seems that people all around Chanda are dying of AIDS, but no one will talk about it. The cemeteries are filling up as fast as they are being built, but every time someone dies people say the death was from TB or pneumonia or Cancer. Because AIDS is too scary to say out loud and if you have it and you live in Chanda’s town, you could lose your job or your friends and even your family might toss you out.
This is Chanda’s reality and she doesn’t know what her baby sister died from or what her mother keeps getting sick from. And Chanda isn’t sure she wants to find out, because knowing the truth may be too big of a secret to have to keep.
Booktalk by Jane Wheeler, Whatcom County Library System
by Allan Stratton
What would it be like to live in world where going to the hospital or visiting a doctor was a mark of shame: A sign that you or your family was wicked, evil?
You really wouldn't want to get sick would you? And if you did, you'd keep it a secret.
Chanda lives in sub-Saharan Africa. Her family is really poor—ever since her father went off to work in the South African diamond mines and never came back. Her mom had remarried three times—once to a man who abused Chanda badly, another time to a drunken loser.
But Chanda won't give up. She protects her little sister and brother as best she can, and she goes to school. A good education could change everything in her life!
And then they get sick. Really sick.
Chanda hopes for a brighter future, a better life: But her secrets may kill that hope—and Chanda, herself.
Read Chanda's Secret – but don't forget a box of Kleenex.
Booktalk by Kirsten Edwards, King County Library system
January 15, 2008