Guantanamo Boy
Anna Perera

Khalid, a fifteen-year-old Muslim boy from Rochdale, is abducted from Pakistan while on holiday with his family. He is taken to Guantanamo Bay and held without charge, where his hopes and dreams are crushed under the cruelest of circumstances. An innocent denied his freedom at a time when Western boys are finding theirs, Khalid tries and fails to understand what's happening to him and cannot fail to be a changed young man.

'...excellent novel... superb'- Amanda Craig, The Times

'This powerful book shows that hatred is never an answer, and proves the pointlessness of torture and the danger of thinking of anyone as 'other'" - Nicolette Jones, The Sunday Times, Children's Book of the Week
Aaron, from St James Catholic High School

I thoroughly enjoyed this book! The writer tells me what her characters feel, hear, taste and smell and it makes me feel I am right there.


When Khalid’s dad gets taken away, it makes me wonder if that is going to happen to him. This book kind of ‘guides us in the right path’, as it tells us how important respect can actually be.


During the book, Khalid has flashbacks which forces the reader to have their mind in two places at the one time, asking 'what is going on now?', then a flashback.


I really liked the powerful description on page 55: “There is an oasis of silence”. A good place to end I think.

Christian, from University College School London

Guantanamo Boy is a book about a Muslim teen, called Khalid, whose life is normal and no different to anyone else’s at the start of the story. But then when he is on holiday with his family, he is kidnapped because the CIA thinks that he is a terrorist. This leads to him being sent to various prisons with him ending up in the Guantanamo prison for two years with no charge.



I found this book believable, especially at the fact that it was recently after 9/11 when he was kidnapped, because of the scare of more Muslim terrorists. The book gave me an interesting view of how people are treated at prison camps, and the harshness used by the guards. Guantanamo Boy is a book in which you strongly sense Khalid’s emotions, such as anger when the guards don’t believe him, and view the prison camp from the eyes of an innocent teen.

Christopher, from University College School London

Guantanamo Boy touches on subjects not widely known to young people: the treatment of supposed terrorists in the American-run prison at Guantanamo Bay. Beginning in 2002, the story follows Khalid, a teenager from Rochdale. He leads a relatively normal life until everything changes when he goes to Pakistan. He is captured and handed over to Americans. He becomes one of many innocents to be wrongfully imprisoned in one of the world’s most notorious prisons.



The book is different because it is entirely written in the present tense. This takes some getting used to, but once the book gets going, it successfully gives a further dimension to the story. Suddenly, the graphic scenes of torture and slow descent into madness become much more vivid. Indeed, the book makes much use of depictions of hallucinations and Khalid’s state of mind. This, paired with the use of the present tense, makes Guantanamo Boy have a real sense of atmosphere. It includes the reader into the often terrifying and deadly life led by inmates of Guantanamo Bay.



Guantanamo Boy does very well to shine a light onto an unknown part of the recent past and give an exciting and engrossing storyline at the same time. A definitely good read.

Dominika, from St James Catholic High School

In my opinion this book was brilliant because it highlighted the fact that, yes, these things really do happen and if someone doesn’t do something about this, then we will have a world war on a scale we’ve never seen.


Also this book was so intriguing I got into trouble at school because I just simply could not put it down….


My question for the author would be: where did you get the inspiration from?


All in all I think this book is brilliant.

Gregory, from University College School London

Guantanamo Boy by Anna Perera is about a fifteen-year -old boy called Khalid who is an ordinary boy who likes seeing his friends, playing football and normal things. He isn’t too exited about having to go to visit his family in Pakistan, but his mother and father force him to go and when his father goes missing his life turns around.


I think Guantanamo Boy is a great book as it gives both an excitement and facts in one. It shows excitement through all the adventurous journeys he goes through and its story is so compelling that at points it brings tears to your eyes. However it still tells us knowledge of what happens in places like Pakistan and how the phrase ‘innocent until proven guilty’ is untrue. It also shows how cruel guards of thought terrorists are as it shows what they’ll do to extract information or break the prisoner.


Overall I would recommend this book to anyone but would warn them to be ready for what is in this book as it contains parts that could distress people. If I were to rate it I would give it a nine out of ten.

Joshua, from University College School London

Guantanamo Boy by Anna Perera is a book about a boy from Rotherham who goes on holiday to Karachi in Pakistan. He is captured by American soldiers and taken to Guantanamo Bay. The book is often repetitive and boring as Khalid the main character is stuck and imprisoned and the same thoughts go round and round his head, but the actual plot of the book is very good and the book has a very good beginning and end; it is just the middle part which is repetitive, even uninteresting. However, other than the middle part, the book is an enjoyable and moving read. 8/10

Kaprice, from St James Catholic High School

Guantanamo Boy is based in Guantanamo Bay and is full of suspense and mystery. The tension goes on and on right till the end of the book.


The main character is called Khalid. He is an ordinary 15-year-old boy who comes from Karachi but lives in London. He has a cousin call Tariq and he talks to him every day online.


I think that Guantanamo Boy is an interesting book because it told me things about Pakistan that I didn’t know before and how life there is so different from life in England.

Katie, from Queen Elizabeth's Girls' School, Barnet

Khalid is just an ordinary schoolboy from Manchester, until everything changes. When the Americans mistake him for a member of the Al Qaeda they kidnap him.


I really like this book because it is interesting and has told me a lot about the things that have gone on in Afghanistan, now and in the past. However, I think that it is quite depressing for a teenage audience.


Anna Perera has written a story full of truth and sadness. I used to not know anything about Afghanistan but now I have had an insight of what it must be like to be a Guantanamo Boy.

Laetitia, from St James Catholic High School

This book is about a 15-year-old boy, Khalid, who lives in Rochdale. When Khalid leaves England to visit his family in Pakistan, he gets a wake-up call as to how hard life in that country can be. First his dad disappears, and very soon after he himself is kidnapped and ends up in Guantanamo Bay, where he is tortured because he is suspected of having links with Al Qaeda and is a Muslim.


This story shows how brutal some people’s lives are. Khalid’s dreams were crushed; his hopes were fading away with every moment spent in Guantanamo Bay. This is a life-changing book that makes you examine the world more closely.


Steffy, from St James Catholic High School

This story is about a boy called Khalid, a fifteen-year-old Muslim boy from Rochdale, who is abducted from Pakistan whilst on holiday with his family. He is taken to Guantanamo Bay and held without charge, where his hopes and dreams are crushed under the cruellest of circumstances. An innocent denied his freedom at a time when Western boys are finding theirs, Khalid tries and fails to understand what's happening to him and cannot fail to be a changed young man. I think this book gives you a very good political lesson about the world around you. It also shows how some people are suspicious about people from other religions or countries.


Overall, I think this is an awesome book that rates 4/5. It would have been 5/5 but the description of Khalid’s treatment was so gruesome. 

Yasmine, from St James Catholic High School

When 15-year-old Khalid and his family go to Pakistan to see their family, he knows that it’s a bad idea, and he’s right. Soon after the disappearance of his father, Khalid is kidnapped. He’s taken to a place where tortures are normal, Guantanamo Bay. I recommend this amazing book for people aged 12+ and would rate it 10/10. 

Zachary, from University College School London

I thoroughly enjoyed this book and would recommend it to all those who enjoy drama and action type of books. The strong use of vocabulary and lexical choices creates a very intense effect, and there is a good use of dramatic tension which makes the reader feel an inclination to continue reading. However, I did find the book fairly repetitive and dull in some parts, during Khalid's imprisonment in Guantanamo Bay, but that can be justified because of the boring, routine and mundane way of life in prison. 



It was very interesting to be narrated from a teenage prisoner's point of view in prison, and what he says is somewhat more believable than the point of view from a terrorist. Because of this we feel guilt (at sometimes misunderstanding terrorism) and anger (at those who torture and capture innocent people). Finally, the imagery produced is extremely vivid, and it makes you feel like you're in prison.