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Chanda's Secrets

Allan Stratton's young adult novel is about family, loyalty and survival in sub-Saharan Africa.

Allan Stratton

Chanda is a 16-year-old girl growing up in the African city of Bonang, where the community is struggling to deal with the HIV/AIDS pandemic. Shame and stigma affect those with the illness and everyone lacks proper education and awareness about the issue. Chanda must fight to protect her family in these difficult times, and she doesn't want secrets to tear them apart.

Chanda's Secrets is for readers ages 14 and up.

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From the book

Mrs. Tafa is right. I do know what she's talking about. New cemeteries overflow as fast as they open. Officially it's because of pneumonia, TB, and cancer. But that's a lie, and everyone knows it.

The real reason the dead are piling up is because of something else. A disease too scary to name out loud. If people say you have it, you can lose your job. Your family can kick you out. You can die on the street alone. So you live in silence, hiding behind the curtain. Not just to protect yourself, but to protect the ones you love, and the good name of your ancestors. Dying is awful. But even worse is dying alone in fear and shame with a lie.

Thank god nobody whispered "AIDS" when Esther's parent's got sick. Her papa had a cough and her mama had a bruise. It started as simply as that.


From Chanda's Secrets by Allan Stratton ©2004. Published by Annick Press.

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