I am very pleased to host a stop on the Nick Lake tour today. IN DARKNESS is the Prinz award winning book about a boy fighting to survive a devastating earthquake in Haiti. Here’s a little bit about the book:
Author: Nick Lake
A stunning tour-de-force set in the aftermath of a devastating earthquake. “Shorty” is a Haitian boy trapped in the ruins of a hospital when the earth explodes around him. Surrounded by lifeless bodies and growing desperately weak from lack of food and water, death seems imminent. Yet as Shorty waits in darkness for a rescue that may never come, he becomes aware of another presence, one reaching out to him across two hundred years of history. It is the presence of slave and revolutionary leader Toussaint L’Ouverture, whose life was marred by violence, and whose own end came in darkness. What unites a child of the slums with the man who would shake a troubled country out of slavery? Is it the darkness they share . . . or is it hope?
Winner of the 2013 Michael L. Printz Award, In Darkness is a story not to be missed.
Bloomsbury has provided an excerpt that I’m sure will grip your heart the way it did mine.
By Nick Lake
© 2012 Nick Lake
I am the voice in the dark, calling out for your help.
I am the quiet voice that you hope will not turn to silence, the voice you want to keep hearing cos it means someone is still alive. I am the voice calling for you to come and dig me out. I am the voice in the dark, asking you to unbury me, to bring me from the grave out into the light, like a zombi.
I am a killer and I have been killed, too, over and over; I am constantly being born. I have lost more things than I have found; I have destroyed more things than I have built. I have seen babies abandoned in the trash and I have seen the dead come back to life.
I first shot a man when I was twelve years old.
I have no name. There are no names in the darkness cos there is no one else, only me, and I already know who I am (I am the voice in the dark, calling out for your help), and I have no questions for myself and no need to call upon myself for anything, except to remember.
I am alone.
I am dying.
In darkness, I count my blessings like Manman taught me.
One: I am alive.
Two: there is no two.
I see nothing and I hear nothing. This darkness, it’s like something solid. It’s like it’s inside me.
I used to shout for help, but then after a while I couldn’t tell if I was speaking through my mouth or just in my head, and that scared me. Anyway, shouting makes me thirsty.
So I don’t shout anymore. I only touch and smell. This is how I know what is in here with me, in the darkness. There is a light, except it doesn’t work. But I can tell it’s a light cos I feel the smooth glass of the lamp, and I remember how it used to sit on the little table by my bed. That is another thing – there is a bed in here. It was my bed before the walls fell down. I can feel its soft mattress and its broken slats.
I smell blood. There is anpil blood in this place, on me and all around me. I can tell it’s blood cos it smells of iron and death. And cos I’ve smelled blood before. I grew up in the bidonville – it’s a smell you get used to.
Not all of the blood is mine, but some of it is.
I used to touch the bodies, but I don’t do that anymore.
They smell, too.
I don’t know what happened. I was in bed minding my own zafè, then everything shook and I fell and the darkness started. Or maybe everything else fell.
I’m in Canapé-Vert Hospital, this I know. It’s a private hospital, so I figure the blancs must be paying for it. I don’t know why they brought me here after they killed Biggie and put this bullet in my arm. Maybe they felt bad about it.
Yesterday – or possibly it was longer ago than that – Tintin came to see me. It was before the world fell down. Tintin must have used his pass – the one that Stéphanie got him – to get out of Site Solèy through the checkpoints. I wonder how Stéphanie is feeling now that Biggie is dead, cos she’s UN and she shouldn’t have been sleeping with a gangster. She must have really loved him.
Tintin signed my bandage. I told him it’s only plaster casts that people sign, not bandages, but he didn’t know the difference. Tintin doesn’t know much about anyen.
Example: you’re thinking that he signed his name on my bandage, but he didn’t. He signed Route 9, like he writes everywhere. Tintin doesn’t just tag. He likes to shout, Route 9, when we’re rolling in the streets, too – Route 9 till I die, dumb stuff like that. I would look at the people we were driving past and say to him:
— You don’t know who these people are. They might be from Boston. They might cap you.
— That’s the point, he would say. I’m not afraid of them. I’m Route 9.
I thought Tintin was a cretin, but I didn’t say so. Old people like my manman say Route 9 and Boston used to mean something back in the day. Like, Route 9 was for Aristide and Boston was for the rebels. Now they don’t mean anything at all. I was in Route 9 with Tintin, but I didn’t write it anywhere
and I didn’t shout it out, either. If anyone was going to kill me, I wanted it to be for a good reason. Not cos I said the wrong name.
Anyway, when I was rolling with the Route 9 crew, I didn’t want the Boston thugs to know me. I didn’t want them to know me till I had them at the end of my gun, and they would have to give my sister back. I tried that in the end. It didn’t work out how I wanted it to.
In the hospital, after Tintin wrote Route 9 on my bandage, he shook my hand. It hurt, but he didn’t notice.
— How are you? he asked me.
— I got shot, I said. How do you think I am?
Tintin shrugged. He got shot a couple of years ago, and Biggie and Stéphanie arranged for him to come here to get sewn up. For him, it obviously wasn’t a big deal. But that’s Tintin. He’s, like, so full of holes, so easy to hurt, that he stops the world from hurting him by hurting it fi rst. If he found a puppy, he’d strangle it to stop himself liking it. He knows I got shot, too, before, when I was young. But I don’t remember that so well.
— Everyone in the hood be giving you props, blud, Tintin said in English. Tintin was one of those gangsters who talk all the time in English, like they’re from the hood or something, the real hood, like in New York or Baltimore. You was cold out there. Vre chimère.
I didn’t know what to say, so I just said:
This is what American gangsters say when they want to agree with something. I said it so that I would still sound like a player even though I couldn’t care less about that thug shit anymore, for reasons which you will learn for your ownselves. But that seemed to be OK, cos Tintin nodded like I had said something profound.
— Leave here, you’ll get a block, gen pwoblem. Maybe be a boss one day your ownself, Tintin said. You killed those Boston motherfuckers stone dead.
Now I shrugged. I didn’t want a block. I wanted all the dead people to not be dead anymore, but that’s a lot to ask, even in Haiti, where dead people are never really dead.
Nick Lake is the much-acclaimed author of In Darkness, winner of the Michael L. Printz Award, and Hostage Three, which received three starred reviews and was named a Publishers Weekly, School Library Journal, and Boston Globe Best Book of the Year. His next book is There Will Be Lies, out in January 2015. He is also the Publishing Director for fiction at HarperCollins Children’s Books UK. Nick lives near Oxford, England. Visit him online at www.in-darkness.org and on Twitter at @NicholasLake.
Nick also has a new book coming out in Jan 2015 – THERE WILL BE LIES. Here’s a little bit about it:
Thanks to the publisher’s generosity, I have one finished copy of IN DARKNESS to give away! Please fill out the rafflecopter below. Good luck!
You must be 13+ to enter. Open to US residents only. Duplicate or contest only account will be disqualified.