Ten-year-old Aderito has been brought from the United States to the banks of a beautiful river in Homoine, Mozambique. There, he befriends a young girl named Victoria, and for a brief time, their childhood is promising. Soon, the violence that is raging across the country makes its way to Aderito’s doorstep, and both children are abducted by rebels and forced to learn the ways of trained killers in a war they barely understand.
With only each other for support, Victoria and Aderito struggle to remain unnoticed among their peers. But the more Aderito kills, the more he needs killing, channeling all his rage into war and becoming a valuable weapon. And Victoria, growing older and prettier by the day, begins to attract unwanted attention from their captors.
Caught in a battle that ravages villages and tears families apart, Aderito knows he cannot expect a happy ending. And yet he and Victoria make brave plans to escape—only to find themselves facing torments that no adult, let alone child, should ever have to face. As Mozambique struggles through its defining crisis, Aderito too must find a way to survive the childhood that will come to define him as a man.