Excerpts from reader reviews:

A story much larger unfolds around one man’s account of life as a child soldier–one that shocks, entertains, inspires and ultimately confronts readers with their own resilience.

This is a story of hope overcoming enormous obstacles, of how even in the darkest times of our lives there is a way forward if we can dare to grasp it.

His story offers a powerful lens on perspective, core values and adaptability. With survival and success as proof of an individual’s power in changing and directing the course of their life–against so many odds–this book is a timely reminder that doing so is more about courage and choosing than chances and circumstance.

With wisdom beyond his years, Innocent provides an example we can all strive toward: of peace and reconciliation over bitterness and anger. It’s something our world could use more of.

“This book is well-written and left me with multiple emotions every time I read a chapter – my favorite type of book! Innocent and McLaughlin create the perfect combination of the unfortunate pain in our world and the desire to rise above that pain to make a difference. It’s truly a must-read!

Professional Reviews

“Innocent: A Spirit of Resilience by Kevin McLaughlin and Opwonya Innocent is set against the backdrop of the unrest in northern Uganda three years after Opwonya Innocent was born, which was amid the escalating war. His father was wrongfully convicted of treason and imprisoned, hence he could not be present for Opwonya’s birth. The book chronicles Opwonya’s journey, his struggles, the trauma he faced, and how it paved the way for him to help and heal others from their pain, thereby giving them hope that enabled them to make meaningful and positive changes in their lives.

The book is honest and Opwonya’s story is uplifting and will give readers hope, determination, courage, and perseverance. The story is also motivating, encouraging readers to give up anger and bitterness and work towards a peaceful existence. The narration is detailed, making the scenes vivid, and the pictures shared in the book give clarity to the words and surroundings. The story will also make many of us be grateful for our own lives as it throws light on the many others who live in dangerous and calamitous surroundings. Opwonya Innocent’s journey toward earning a graduate degree, reopening an orphanage, and making a positive impact on the future generations of Ugandans make the book an engaging and compelling read. The story will draw readers in and give them the feeling of personally knowing Opwonya Innocent. What needs to be appreciated is the way that Opwonya Innocent refuses to be depressed and disappointed by the hardships he faces, though they were not chosen by him.”     -Reviewed and rated “5 Stars” Mamta Madhavan, Readers’ Favorite


“Synopsis: Opwonya Innocent was born three years after unrest started in northern Uganda and three years before the formation of the anti-government Lord’s Resistance Army led by Joseph Kony. Death came to his village when he was only seven, and soon his parents required him to sleep miles away from home for safety. At ten he was abducted by Kony’s army and taken to a training camp for child soldiers, where brutality and violence became his new reality. After a narrow escape he was taken by government soldiers to a counseling center before returning to his family, now without the guidance of a father.
Since that time, Innocent has exhibited extraordinary resilience, pushing through these and many other challenges, ultimately securing a position which has allowed him to come to the aid of countless children in Uganda facing much of the same hardship. “Innocent: A Spirit of Resilience” reveals, in his own words, Innocent’s struggle to heal from the trauma he experienced, a growing awareness of a desire to help others and his tireless effort to realize meaningful, positive change. Innocent’s inspiring story embodies the triumph of hope and determination over pain, trauma and fear.
Critique: A deeply personal biography that reads with all the dramatic narrative of a novel, “Innocent: A Spirit of Resilience” is a compelling, thoughtful and thought-provoking read from beginning to end. While very highly recommended, especially for community library collections, it should be noted for personal reading lists that “Innocent: A Spirit of Resilience” is also available in a digital book format (Kindle, $8.99).”     -James A. Cox, Editor-in-Chief, Midwest Book Review
Publishers’ Weekly/BookLife Prize Assessment:

Plot: In this perfectly plotted memoir, the emotional journey of Innocent keeps the reader engaged. A quick and captivating story.

Prose: Solid, clear, and crisp prose paired with a fascinating tale make this an compelling read.

Originality: While there are other memoirs about similar subject matter, Innocent’s journey—and its message of hope—feels fresh and vital.

Character Development: Innocent is well developed and feels real to readers.Throughout the memoir, he gains knowledge from his experiences and puts that knowledge to good use.


Additional Reviews

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