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From the Trade Paperback edition.
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
Posted September 20, 2012
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