Afrika

( 1 )

Overview

For thirteen-year-old Kim, travel to South Africa with her journalist mother will mark the end of her childhood and the beginning of a remarkable journey. Expecting nothing more than three months in her mother’s homeland, Kim comes to terms with the country’s diverse and often shocking history. The Truth and Reconciliation Hearings in post-apartheid South Africa open her eyes to the tragedy and brutality of its segregationist policies. Kim’s first meeting with her relatives, her contact with schoolmates and ...

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Afrika

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Overview

For thirteen-year-old Kim, travel to South Africa with her journalist mother will mark the end of her childhood and the beginning of a remarkable journey. Expecting nothing more than three months in her mother’s homeland, Kim comes to terms with the country’s diverse and often shocking history. The Truth and Reconciliation Hearings in post-apartheid South Africa open her eyes to the tragedy and brutality of its segregationist policies. Kim’s first meeting with her relatives, her contact with schoolmates and cousins, bring her face-to-face with the realization that she is not as removed from this powerful story as she thought.

As her mother struggles with her past, Kim becomes more and more determined to unlock the secret that has always kept her from knowing her father. Helped by the young son of a long-time family servant, whose own father was a casualty of Apartheid history, Kim eventually unlocks her mystery and brings her mother and herself to their own truth and reconciliation.

Layered and complex, this is a novel that raises questions and challenges beliefs.

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Editorial Reviews

Children's Literature - Renee Farrah
Kim is spending her entire summer vacation in South Africa as her mother Riana reports on the Truth and Reconciliation Hearings. It is post-apartheid South Africa, as well as Riana's homeland, so although Kim meets her relatives for the first time, there is still one person she has never met—her father. She does not know anything about him, and no one seems to want to enlighten her. With the help of Themba, the son of the family's servant, Kim learns about South Africa's history and her own family. She discovers that both South Africa and her family have a secretive, destructive past that keeps them from letting go and moving forward. This is a great book to discuss segregation, roots and tradition, and cultural understanding. The story is not overly graphic but gets its point across—brutality was rampant and corruption was everywhere. It brings up a lot of good moral and ethical questions while telling a mesmerizing story. Reviewer: Renee Farrah
KLIATT - Lorie Paldino
A trip to Africa would make for a perfect summertime adventure; at least that's what Kim van der Merwe thinks. Rianna, her mother, is a journalist assigned to cover the Truth and Reconciliation Commission Hearings in post-apartheid South Africa for three months during Kim's summer vacation. Now living in Canada, Riana had fled her native South Africa 13 years ago while pregnant with Kim. As a result, Riana's family and Kim's father have always been a mystery—and a forbidden topic—to Kim. Kim is quickly indoctrinated in the ways of life in South Africa by Themba, whose family has worked for the van der Merwes for generations. Themba's father was murdered for seeking to change the system of apartheid. Just as South Africa searches for truth and reconciliation through its commission hearings, so, too, are Kim and Themba seeking the truth. Themba has to decide whether he wants to hear the circumstances of his father's death and face the man who killed him, while Kim searches for the identity of her own father, piecing the puzzle together with Themba's help and insistence. Craig thoroughly transports the reader to another place and time, recreating the sights and sounds of South Africa and helping the reader to understand its contrasting turbulence and beauty. She captures the language, the class structure and the complexity of this culture along with the fierce pride of country that all South Africans, regardless of race, inherently feel. This novel is a history lesson, a mystery novel, a love story and a patriotic tale, all rolled into one. Reviewer: Lorie Paldino
School Library Journal

Gr 6-8- Growing up in Canada with her white South African mother, Kim van der Merwe does not know who her father is. Now, at 13, she goes to Cape Town for the first time, shortly after independence in the mid-1990s, because her mother, a journalist, is going to report on the Truth and Reconciliation Commission. Visiting and meeting her family for the first time, she decides that her mission will be to discover her father's identity. When Kim becomes involved in a friendship with the family who works for the van der Merwes', especially Themba, whose father was murdered by the police during apartheid, her life becomes more closely entwined with South Africa's political and social realities. As she gets closer to the answer she seeks, her mother becomes more and more unhinged by the horrors she hears about in her work. The climax packs a powerful emotional punch as the author dovetails Kim's personal odyssey with the pain, contradictions, and hopes of the country as it carries its devastating history into the future. The realities of the society are carefully and skillfully portrayed, so that Kim's story is truly the emotional heart of the book, and not a vehicle for ideas. Kim herself is a believable and likable character, and her relationship with Themba is tender and realistic. The author does not sugarcoat the realities of South Africa, or the details of torture that are revealed at the Truth Commission. Not just another multicultural title, by any means, this novel will really grab readers who appreciate realistic fiction about young people searching for their place in the world.-Sue Giffard, Ethical Culture Fieldston School, New York City

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780887768071
  • Publisher: Tundra
  • Publication date: 4/8/2008
  • Pages: 240
  • Sales rank: 375,231
  • Age range: 12 years
  • Lexile: 690L (what's this?)
  • Product dimensions: 5.29 (w) x 7.65 (h) x 0.51 (d)

Meet the Author

Born and raised in western Canada, Colleen Craig studied creative writing at the University of British Columbia. She then lived in South Africa during the 1980s and observed apartheid firsthand. In 1991 she moved back to Canada and settled in Toronto where she continued her career as a playwright. In 1997 she became a Stott Pilates teacher and in 2001 began to publish the bestselling Pilates on the Ball series which has been translated into six languages. Afrika is her first novel.

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