City of Saints & Thieves (Penguin Teen, $24.99) reviewers were right; Natalie C. Anderson’s book was both fast-paced and nail biting. But beyond that, it was a rich, sad, hopeful story filled with characters who are good, good and bad, and just evil.

Stories like these make me appreciate the life – and opportunities – I have, and grateful my grandparents chose Canada as a place to call home.

Tina, the main character, certainly didn’t have, or will ever have, the choices I have. It is because of her lack of choices, mainly due to where she lives and the fact she is a woman, that she chooses her path. And what a path.

Along the way, you meet some pretty interesting characters, both good and bad; learn about a world that seems so foreign to our own; and find more out about Tina and her mom.

My heart breaks for the characters in this book, and the real people whose stories are not that different.

Visit to read Toronto resident Michel Chikwaine’s story about being forced to be a a child solider in Democratic Republic of Congo rebel militia.

A copy of this book was provided by Penguin Canada for honest review.