That Mad Game

Growing Up in a Warzone: An Anthology of Essays from Around the Globe

By: J.L. Powers
Coming of age during a time of war: fighting, dying, surviving. First-person accounts from around the world.


Coming of age during a time of war: fighting, dying, surviving. First-person accounts from around the world.

Seventeen writers contribute essays about how they became adults in times of war. Essays focus on modern history but take no sides. Vietnam from both sides. Bosnia. The Gulf War. Rwanda. Juárez. El Salvador. The list goes on and on. There are no winners, just the survivors left behind. Picking up the pieces.

A Talib in Love by Qais Akbar Omar / AFGHANISTAN

No Longer Young by Phillip Cole Manor / VIETNAM

Holland 1944-45 by Elisabeth Breslav / THE NETHERLANDS

Across the River by Nikolina Kulidžan / BOSNIA

Hand-Me-Down War Stories by Jerry Mathes / U.S.

Left Behind in El Salvador by René Colato Laínez / EL SALVADOR

Ways of the Khmer Rouge by Peauladd Huy / CAMBODIA

My War and His War by Alia Yunis / LEBANON, PALESTINE, U.S.

Our America by Marnie Mueller / JAPANESE INTERNMENT CAMPS, U.S.

Exiled to Gansu Province by Xiaomei Lucas as told to Becky Powers / CHINA

Brass Shells by Aria Minu-Sepehr / IRAN

Half a Continent, Step by Step by Andie Miller / RWANDA, DRC, SOUTH AFRICA

Statistical Life by David Yost / BURMA, THAILAND

The Light of Gandhi's Lamp by Hilary Kromberg Inglis / SOUTH AFRICA

From Fear to Hope: Raising Our Children in the World's Most Violent City by Fito Avitia / JUÁREZ, MÉXICO

A Separate Escape: The Chin of Burma & the Unaccompanied Refugee Minor Program by Rebecca Henderson / BURMA, MALAYSIA, U.S.

Symphony No.1 (In Memoriam, Dresden, 1945) by David Griffith / U.S., IRAQ, GERMANY

Awards and Accomodations

2012 Skipping Stone Honor Book
2013 Notable Book for a Global Society

9 reviews for That Mad Game

  1. Merna Ann Hecht, Interdisciplinary Arts and Sciences Lecturer, Univeristy of Washington, Tacoma

    When writing their end of quarter reflections, the students in my freshmen Humanities class wrote of the impact That Mad Game had on their learning. Comments such as “the instructor’s choice of That Mad Game was excellent, it opened my eyes and my heart to people and situations I had never thought of before,” and “My sense of myself as a global citizen grew in leaps and bounds; I have a new awareness of how others suffer from injustice far beyond my own safety; it made me want to become more active in the world.” I will continue to use That Mad Game as the central text for my freshmen students. It is a deeply humane way for young people to begin to grapple with the consequences of war.

  2. Kirkus Reviews
    Uplifting tales of survival… War’s most vulnerable victims have their say.

  3. School Library Journal
    [R]readers will be rewarded by [this] compelling and often uplifting anthology … That Mad Game surprises with its variety. From Taliban-controlled Kabul to a Japanese internment camp in northern California, from a teen girl’s “soundtrack of war” in Beirut to a young man’s long walk across much of Africa, the startling stories make for rough going at times. But the humor, beauty, and humanity shining through the darkness are what make this collection a must-have for all libraries serving high school students. —Sam Bloom

  4. Bookslut
    Truly a unique title. If we are lucky, we will never know what the contributors to Powers’s collection have revealed. We will only have their record to better know what it was like; we will only have their sorrow to help us understand. Highly recommended. —Coleen Mondor

  5. The Pirate Tree
    THAT MAD GAME is a collection of personal essays that can move glaciers. At least they will move the human heart to consider the suffering of those who experience the violence and terror of war … Each essay presents a unique perspective, and each one shares pain but also hope. Even humor. —Nancy Bo Flood

  6. Charles London, author of One Day The Soldiers Came: Voices of Children in War
    There is heartache in the stories J.L. Powers has assembled here, as well as loss and pain and death. They are about war, after all. But there is humor too, and also love and faith and hope, because they are human stories too, and as each one testifies in its own way, humans are able to heal.

  7. Trent Reedy, author of Words in the Dust and Stealing Air
    I was sent to the war in Afghanistan with a lot of slogans in my head about freedom and fighting terrorism. What I found instead was a tremendous respect for the good Afghan people, a deep sympathy for the Afghan children struggling for better lives, and a profound hatred of the Taliban for the way they brutalized their own people. That Mad Game is a reminder that such hatred is the same mistake from which all the world’s wars are born. The fact that That Mad Game can steer my hard heart toward sympathy for a young Talib is a sure sign of this book’s tremendous potential to foster a spirit of peace and understanding in readers everywhere.

  8. Bulletin of the Center for Children’s Books
    These essays give readers a front-row seat to the hunger, the hardship, and, ultimately, the resilience of people whose childhoods were forever marked by life on the front lines.

  9. Viewpoints
    In reading these documents of the inhumanities of war, we open our eyes to the ways brutality is perpetuated upon people and perhaps we become a little more compassionate from this understanding.

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