Amani's River

Fiction - Historical - Event/Era
230 Pages
Reviewed on 01/29/2015
Buy on Amazon

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Author Biography

DAVID HARTNESS is an award winning author and freelance writer. An avid traveler, inspired by many cultures, David enjoys using this subject in his blog “A Small Perspective.”

Raised on Vashon, a small island in Puget Sound, Washington, David learned the values of life and hard work to pursue his ambitions. This led him to travel internationally, serving a small school in Ebukolo, Kenya. While in Kenya, he lived in a mud hut with no running water or electricity. Mr. Hartness had ambitions to make lasting change while in Kenya but ended up learning more from the experience than he gave back.

He later served in the U.S. Peace Corps as an education volunteer stationed in Namaacha, Mozambique. Upon leaving service, David continued his education, receiving an MBA from Walden University, and currently enrolled in a DBA program.

David currently lives in Maryland with his son.

Amani’s River is David’s first full-length novel.

    Book Review

Reviewed by Cheryl E. Rodriguez for Readers' Favorite

David Hartness’ Amani’s River is an emotionally charged, gut wrenching work of fiction. Sitting on the banks of a river outside the small village of Homoine, Mozambique, Aderito’s mind drifts as he listens to the tranquil sounds. With his mother’s ashes in his hands, Aderito shares the nightmare of his childhood with his wife and son. Until the age of ten, Aderito lived in Houston, Texas. But, his father felt the need to return to his homeland of Mozambique. Moving and living in Mozambique was a huge culture shock, unknowns engulfed Aderito. After a few months, Aderito met a young girl, Victoria. They become the best of friends. One day as they were playing at the river, the RENAMO arrived and brutally abducted them. Victoria was repeatedly raped into submission and Aderito was savagely trained to be a soldier. The only way to please his captors was to mindlessly kill. Days turned into years, his memories faded, he realized he has lost his soul. Escape was suicide. Yet, there is a yearning within, the voice of hope faintly calls, and Aderito finds himself “running toward immemorial memory.” A place of peace, peace like a river... Amani’s River.

David Hartness has spent most of his adult life living in Africa. While in the Peace Corps, he was an education volunteer in Mozambique. He immersed himself in their culture and in return they captured his heart and soul. Amani’s River is written in first person narrative, therefore, as the reader, you hear the story through Aderito’s character. This writing technique places you in the setting as the story unfolds. Your heart pounds with fear, stops with acts of cruelty, and aches for the burdens of the characters. The novel is very well written. The plot flows with an element of anxiousness, fearful apprehension. Hartness vividly exposes the harsh realities and brutality of war. The character development is intensely graphic, page after page reveals the transformation of a young boy into a brainwashed child soldier. The story is gripping, revealing the truth – “no winners could be declared in war!" I have close friends who are missionaries in Mozambique. They, too, desire to give their lives for the people of Mozambique, to make a contribution, hoping to bring hope to the next generation.

Anne-Marie Reynolds

Amani’s River by David Hartness is a historical fiction novel. Aderito is just 10 years old when he finds himself on the banks of the river in Mozambique. He meets Victoria and the two become good friends, enjoying their childhood together and looking forward to a promising future. All too soon, it comes to an end as both children find themselves embroiled in the violent war that is raging across Mozambique when they are abducted. Forced to train as killers, they turn to each other and try to stay out of the way. Unfortunately, Victoria is growing up and starts to attract the kind of attention she doesn’t want, and Aderito has got the taste of blood and killing. They try to escape and make a life for themselves elsewhere, but will the crisis in Mozambique defeat them? Can they survive when the odds are stacked against them?

Amani’s River by David Hartness is a powerful novel, grounded in true historical fact with a tale woven around them. It’s a gripping story that I was caught up in, not stopping until I had fought the battle alongside Victoria and Aderito. I promise any reader that you will get caught, the same as I did, in a whirlwind of emotion as you make your way through the story. If that was the intention of David Hartness, then he has done his job and done it well. Thoroughly enjoyed this amazing story and I hope there is more where this came from.

Heather Osborne

Amani’s River by David Hartness is a vivid fictional account of one boy’s heartbreaking journey as a child soldier in Mozambique. Aderito Chirindza’s father uproots his family from the States and takes them to Mozambique to help serve in the hospital there. The country is in the midst of a bitter civil war and innocent civilians are being subjected to brutal raids. These raids often lead to mutilation and death of the people. Aderito is unhappy in his new home, but nothing prepares him for his horrific capture by a rebel group. He, along with a new found friend, Victoria, are forced into terrible conditions and made to fight. Although Aderito tries to protect Victoria, he is finding himself more and more brainwashed by the cause of the rebels and the lust for killing. Will he manage to make it back to his family alive or will the rebel cause consume him?

Mr. Hartness’ novel is not for the faint of heart. I was ill-prepared for the graphic description and account of Aderito’s life as a child soldier. The content shocked me. As a topic little discussed, I was glad to see a book shed light on such atrocities. I felt the entire novel was profoundly moving and heartbreaking at the same time. As hard as it was to read, Mr. Hartness did not sugar-coat the truth in any way. Amani’s River brings to light some very real issues in Africa and makes the reader pause to consider the realities of life for some of these child soldiers.