By Jessica Easthope
The book isn’t on seventh grader Ciara Amare’s school reading list, but it might one day be on someone else’s – these words are her own. They’re from her published teen and young adult historical fiction novel “Army of Africa.”
“I had to research the rainforest, the animals in the rainforest, I had to research military ranks and the fort,” she said.
Ciara, a student at St. Sebastian Catholic Academy in Woodside wrote the book last year when she was 12 and it was published just a few weeks ago. It’s the story of four army soldiers whose plane crash lands in Ethiopia during World War II. It’s a battle against adversity, a battle Ciara hopes anyone can relate to.
“I hope that with the stories I’m gonna write I hope people are changed by them and I hope that they’re thinking about the messages my stories send, there are problems in life that you have to face, you have to get through them and not just back away,” she said.
It took Ciara four months to write Army of Africa, an undertaking she kept secret from her parents.
“I knew she loved to read she always has a book in her hand but the fact that she wrote a book from start to finish I told my wife, your daughter wrote a book you need to read this,” said her dad, Yeg Amare.
Her dad was in part her muse. Born in Ethiopia, Yeg moved to the states when he was nine. He doesn’t have many memories of his east African home country, but he says the storytelling that’s part of the foundation of Ethiopian culture is in Ciara’s DNA.
“It’s what she attached herself to and what she has a connection to, even the day to day experiences when we talk to our family that’s what she holds on to, she’s always had a love and appreciation for Ethiopian culture,” he said.
When she’s in class Ciara’s schoolwork comes first but it’s there she found the support of her teachers who helped harness her creativity.
“During recess she’d rather read rather than hang out and play so she loves stories so to hear that she was writing her own was very exciting, especially that it was historical fiction so she was doing research, I already had her sign my book so hopefully when she’s famous one day I’ll be able to say she was one of my students,” said St. Sebastian principal Michelle Picarello.
Even through moments of doubt over how her book would be received, Ciara had family and faith to guide her.
“I thank God for giving me the talent of writing, faith has always steered me in the right direction,” she said.
Ciara’s not stopping at “Army of Africa’s” 116 pages, she’s already working on a sequel and looking at a late 2023 release date.