The Red Pencil

1 Response

  1. Meena Khorana says:

    I agree with the reviewer that The Red Pencil is a remarkable book. The poetic format and line drawings focus on emotions and inner thoughts rather than on outward episodes, hence avoiding some of the common stereotypes associated with stories of refugees and child soldiers during civil wars. This structure also highlights the importance of writing/drawing as a means of releasing pent-up emotions and other suppressed psychological issues.

    Amira’s poems give readers an insight into the emerging adolescent’s conflicting emotions: respect for traditions versus a more modern outlook, women’s dependence on traditional roles versus desire for freedom and education, respect for mother and elders versus defiantly making her own decisions, the futility of war, concept of home, etc. The most touching aspect of Amira’s emotions is her inability to speak because of the severe trauma of the war, especially her initial inability to acknowledge and accept her father’s brutal death. These themes are developed through a number of episodes and tropes that are introduced in the first part of the book, and which are subtly and cleverly pursued, and given new meanings and interpretations, in the second part — such as summoning the moon at night; the competition/war between Dando and Anwar over tomatoes and the civil war; friendship between Leila and Gamal; mother’s views on girls’ education; role of Amira’s friend Halima; writing twig and the red pencil, etc.

    I highly recommend the book.

    Rating: 4

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