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What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Hostage Three, by Printz Award-winning author Nick Lake (In Darkness), is about a teen girl who's taken hostage, along with her dad and stepmother, by Somali pirates in 2009. The pirates threaten the family with guns and ransom them for several million dollars. Amy talks about her days of drinking and clubbing, and the Somalis all chew the stimulant khat and smoke cigarettes. There's an attempted rape, and one pirate is killed. Amy falls in love with another pirate, though she realizes this may be a case of identifying with her captor.
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What's the story?
HOSTAGE THREE opens on the deck of a yacht, with a gun being held to 17-year-old Amy's head by a Somali pirate. The narrative flashes between Amy's previous life in England and the frightening situation on the boat. Back home, Amy, a talented violinist, has been purposely messing up her future ever since her mother committed suicide, and she's decidedly unenthusiastic when her father proposes they take a family yacht trip around the world with her new stepmother. When the pirates attack, she finds herself drawn to Farouz, one of the Somalis. Though her feelings are conflicted, she and Farouz grow close, and Amy's able to talk about her mother for the first time since her suicide. Farouz in turn opens up to Amy about his difficult life in war-ridden Somali. Their growing closeness is severely tested when the time comes for the exchange of hostages and ransom.
Is it any good?
Just as in his award-winning debut, In Darkness, author Nick Lake's strength here is in making the reader understand the desperation that drives his characters to take violent and illegal actions. The pacing is taut and exciting, as the narrative alternates between the tense action of the pirates taking over Amy's father's yacht and demanding a ransom for its passengers and Amy's memories of her mother before she committed suicide. Characters are multifaceted and there are no easy answers, which makes for a fascinating story that will give readers something to think about.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about the depiction of Somali pirates in Hostage Three compared with the movie Captain Phillips. What are the differences and similarities between the two?
Why do you think novels and movies about real-world news events and issues such as Somali piracy are so intriguing?
Given what Farouz explains about Somali history, do you think there's justification for these former fishermen becoming pirates?
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