Customer Reviews for

Miriam's Song: A Memoir

Average Rating 4.5
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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 26, 2012

    I Also Recommend:

    An inspirational story like you've never heard before!

    Miriam’s Song by Mark Mathabane is an inspirational story unlike any other I have read. It thoroughly describes the heart-breaking living conditions in South Africa and the oppressive life under apartheid. This story is told from Miriam Mathabane’s point of view and it takes you through the remarkable journey of Miriam’s poor, insufferable life that ends with her succeeding and coming to America to study nursing despite all the tragedies she faced. Not only is the biography of Miriam Mathabane motivational, but also after finishing the book you realize you have actually learned a lot about the time period and African culture. Throughout the novel you learn a great deal about Bantu Education and how unfair it is to the future generations of South Africa. Its main focus is to wreak incalculable damage on generations of black children in order to ensure their servitude. Miriam came in direct contact with its unfairness when she had hoped to get classes such as chemistry, biology, and physics to pursue her dream of becoming a nurse, but instead she was given classes such as accounting and business economics. Although whites made up only 14 percent of the population, and blacks made up 74 percent of the population, whites still insisted upon domination of blacks. Even the police of Alexandra will stop any given African-American and beat them or kill them without cause, Miriam herself was beaten by the white police when innocently walking home one day after school. A major theme that I recognized throughout the novel was that love can accomplish anything. I found this to be a major theme because Miriam faced so many hardships during her life in South Africa yet somehow managed to overcome them and fulfill her dream. Through every tragedy her love for others and her love for God never died. Her endless prayers worked miracles in her life and the lives of her family. I had many likes about the book Miriam’s Song. One of my likes about it was that it was inspirational. You truly believe that if Miriam accomplished her dreams in the worst possible conditions that we could never imagine, than surely I could accomplish my own. Another thing I enjoyed was that I learned a lot from it. I learned what the time period of the 1980’s in South Africa was like, I learned about African culture, I learned about Bantu Education, and I learned about the terrible system of apartheid. Some of my dislikes about the book was that it was very sad and depressing at times, but yet it made you very greatful for what you have. Also at times I believe it got into too much depth about the horrifying living conditions in Alexandra. It’s important to know about how extremely poor life is there but sometimes it was disgusting to read about how unsanitary things were. Someone should most definatley read this book because it is very inspirational and humbling.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 11, 2010

    A Personal Description of One Young Woman's Life During Apartheid

    Miriam's Song by Mark Mathabane chronicles his younger sister's life as she struggles to rise above the violence and rebellion during apartheid in South Africa in the eighties. It gives a very personal view into what it was like to be a person who strived to do something better with her life by continuing her education and to not succumb to the many gangs in her hometown. As Miriam strives to continue her schooling despite the adversity she must conquer and eventually reach her goal of becoming a nurse and going to America, Miriam quickly becomes a very admirable character. The main message throughout the story is that if you are able to keep your dreams in sight, you can reach them despite all the things that get in your way. In other words, if you really want something and are willing to work incredibly hard for it, it will come eventually. I liked that this story is extremely personal because it makes it seem as if you are right there watching Miriam grow up. You are able to become attached to the characters especially since you know that they are real people, not just something that an author conjured in their mind. It is such an inspiring story that makes it clear how fortunate many of us are, especially in comparison to what millions of people went through during apartheid. The only thing that I disliked about Miriam's Song was that even with the glossary in the beginning of the book, it is slightly difficult to remember what some of the words in Zulu and others mean. Also, at times the story was a bit slow, but that is understandable since it is non-fiction and embellishing it too much would make the story less credible in my opinion. If you are looking for an inspiring, eye-opening, story with a bit of a history lesson you should definitely read this book. I began reading the book with very little knowledge of apartheid and I learned a more by reading this book. I would recommend Kaffir Boy, also by Mark Mathabane, because it would expand on the lives already depicted in Miriam's Song. Overall, I would rate this book highly due to the personal experience illustrated through a bit of a history lesson and would recommend it to anyone looking for a quality story.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 19, 2008

    Must read

    The book was hard to put down. I was taken back the way blacks are treated in their own country and annoyed me when it was referred to 'white Africa' This is a book that everyone should read. I am now getting ready to read Kaffir Boy.

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