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Book Review: 'Say You're One of Them'

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Book Review: 'Say You're One of Them'

Say You're One Of Them

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The Bottom Line

An African Jesuit priest from Nigeria, Uwem Akpan presented a horrific look into life in war-torn Africa from a child's perspective in his collection of short stories, Say You're One of Them. The stories come from the perspective of children living in five different countries who experience terror like nothing most Americans have ever witnessed.

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  • A fictional work that sheds light on life for children in Africa.
  • Subject matter may encourage readers to help influence change.
  • Compassionate and honest writing from Uwem Akpan.


  • Short stories can leave readers wanting more from the writing.
  • Subject matter may be too dark for some readers.
  • The writing style of Uwem Akpan can be complicated for some to follow.


  • Published in June of 2008.
  • 368 pages in paperback.
  • Published by Little, Brown and Company.
  • Chosen by Oprah on September 18, 2009 as her 63rd book club selection.

Guide Review - Book Review: 'Say You're One of Them'

When Oprah first announced on September 18, 2009 that her next book club selection was a collection of short stories, her first time ever choosing a book of this type, I was both concerned and intrigued. While I typically am not a huge fan of most short story collections, I was willing to give the book a chance because Oprah felt it was such a powerful collection. Once I began Say You're One of Them by Uwem Akpan, I could see why. As a mother it was incredibly difficult for me to read the horrific tales of children living in war-torn Africa, but the same result should be had by any reader who values the care and treatment of humanity. The stories of these children gave me chills and made me cry with empathy and a desire to figure out what I can do to make a difference.

With some of the five stories I did find myself wanting more from them as I typically do with shorter reads -- wanting to go further into the characters and develop a deeper connection with the writing. And while I struggled at times with the writing style of Uwem Akpan, not always understanding the language references or terms used, the desire to know more about the character never failed to help me find my way back in to the flow of the book.

When Oprah first announced the selection on an edition of Friday Live held in New York City, Oprah shared that choosing a short story collection was "a first for me because each one of these five stories really just left me gasping...just an incredible book." After completing Say You're One of Them I would have to agree and recommend that everyone read this book to inspire a desire to help children everywhere and build a compassionate heart.

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