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A Silver Medal winner of Engalnd's Smarties Book Prize, Beverly Naidoo's new novel explores the issues of family, exile, and freedom wtih eloquence and stunning realism.
Smuggled out of Nigeria after their mother's murder, Sade and her younger brother are abandoned in London when their uncle fails to meet them at the airport and they are fearful of their new surroundings and of what may have happened to their journalist father back in Nigeria.
Sade is slipping her English book into her schoolbag when Mama screams. Two sharp cracks splinter the air. She hears her father's fierce cry, rising, falling.
The revving of a car and skidding of tires smother his voice.
Her bag topples from the bed, spilling books, pen and pencil onto the floor. She races to the verandah, pushing past Femi in the doorway. His body is wooden with fright.
“Mama mi?” she whispers.
Papa is kneeling in the driveway, Mama partly curled up against him. One bare leg stretches out in front of her. His strong hands grip her, trying to halt the growing scarlet monster. But it has already spread down her bright white nurse's uniform. It stains the earth around them.
A few seconds, that is all. Later, it will always seem much longer.
A small gathering began to swell the house, tense and hushed. Sade stared numbly out of the sitting-room window to where Joseph stood nervously on guard. At each new bang, rattle or hoot, he peered anxiously through the crack between the metal gates. His head moved painfully forward and backward like that of an old tortoise. His fingers floundered and fumbled each time he had to wrench back the bolt. He had been a witness. One second he had been casually pushing back one of the gates so his master could drive off to work. The next second, his madame lay slumped on the ground and a white car was screeching away through the wide avenue of palm trees.
Uncle Tunde, Papa's eldest brother, arrived with the doctor. Sade and Femi huddled close to their father as he steered the doctor to the sofawhere Mama now lay. Her face stared upward to the ceiling fan, with lips slightly parted and a tiny frown, as if there were only some small disturbance in a dream. But the flowers on the embroidered bedspread wrapped around her were drenched in crimson and told a different story. Sade clutched her brother's hand, waiting.
“I am very sorry, Mr. Solaja. Your wife had no chance. Straight into the heart.” The doctor pronounced the verdict in a low purr. “I shall inform the authorities — and, if you wish, New Era Hospital? For the post-mortem.”Papa, usually brimming over with words, simply nodded. His arms drew the children in tightly as a high trembling voice quivered next to them. Mama Buki's cry wailed like a lonely seabird.
“Sista mi! Sista mi!”
Sade's own voice was lost somewhere deep inside her. She wanted to rush across, grab hold of Mama, squeeze breath back into her — before it was too late — but she could not move. Kneeling beside her sister, Mama Buki's tears swept over her broad cheeks as she covered Mama's face with the corner of the embroidered bedspread. Sade watched in horror, her own silent tears trapped within her, like in a stone.
Grief burst around them like a pierced boil. All about her, Sade heard people repeat fragments of the story. Mr. Falana, one of their neighbors and also Papa's editor-in-chief, had heard both the gunshots and the getaway car. In the deathly hush that followed, he had peeped out from his own gate on the other side of the road. Seeing the entrance to the Solaja house wide open, he feared the worst and rushed across, followed by his wife still in her dressing gown. It was he who had helped Papa carry Mama inside. Now he had to hurry away to warn his other staff. Papa was the most outspoken journalist on Speak, one of the weekly newspapers in English, but he might not be the only target. Even before any newspaper headlines, the news would be darting by word and mouth along the pavements, highways and cables of Lagos. When the news reached Mama's friends at the hospital where she worked, there would be no end of visitors. Suffocated by arms and voices and with the echo of the gunshots still in her head, Sade felt the urge to escape.
“Please . . .”
The effort was great and her voice was small. But it worked and Sade maneuvered her way out. Papa's study would be quiet.
As she entered the study, the telephone rang. Automatically she picked it up, covering one ear to hear more easily.
“Is that the home of Mr. Folarin Solaja who writes for Speak?”
The man's voice was soft but perfectly clear.
“Don't trouble him. Just give him a message. Tell him: if we get the family first, what does it matter?”
The voice wrung the breath out of her, like a snake secretly squeezing her throat. Frantically she signaled to Uncle Tunde who had come to the study door. He strode across to Papa's desk, but as he reached for the receiver, there was a click. Sade struggled to repeat the horrible words. Her uncle's thick graying eyebrows lurched up over his gold-rimmed spectacles. He looked very grave.
A little later, Joseph unlocked the gates for a sleek white ambulance. The small crowd of mourners stood aside to make a pathway for the two men with a stretcher. Mama Buki led the hymn singing. Barely two minutes later, pressed between Mama Buki's heaving, swaying body and her father who was silent and almost perfectly still, Sade watched them carry Mama away under a blinding-white sheet. The ambulance door clicked shut. The windows were darkened glass and Sade could no longer even see the sheet. Everyone fell quiet. The only sound was of the ambulance's motor and of Joseph grappling once again with the gates. His old body pulled to attention as the vehicle backed out, as if in a final salute. That was all. Mama was gone...
Posted January 29, 2013
Posted November 29, 2012
Posted April 7, 2009
The Solaja family live in Nigeria. Nigeria is filled with terrorism, and the family is affected very deeply by the terrorism. Mr Solaja is a journalist on a weekly newspaper. The newspaper publishes the truth about what is going on in the streets and government in Nigeria.
Mr. Solaja continues to talk about the truths that he sees, even though he knows it could put his family in jeopardy. Mr. Solaja did not prepare for the day that started like any other. Before leaving for school one day, Sade heard a cracking sound and than a cry. At that moment Sade's life was changed forever. Her mother was shot while she was standing outside their house. Sade and her brother, Femi, do not have time to comprehend what has just happened, because their father does not feel it is safe for his children to remain in the home. The children leave the country, using fake names. Their father had to have documents forged because their passports were taken away. The children were suppose to move in with their uncle, Dele, in London. Their father told them that he would be joining them very soon.
After arriving to London, the children cannot find Dele. The children are left in a strange country, all alone, without any money, just following the day their mother was murdered in their yard. The children were found by social services, but did not reveal who they really were and places them in a foster home. The children started to feel a little more at ease, and even began going to school, but decided to remain silent until they knew their father was safely out of Nigeria.
In the end, the children are finally reunited with their father. The time that their father was gone, brought many hardships and difficulties. The children had to navigate a new land and try to understand their new lives without their mother. This book will keep you flipping the pages to find out what will happen next, and perhaps give a second thought to refugees.
Posted May 27, 2008
This is a really great book. I've recently lost some interest in reading and many books seem so boring to me now. However, for a class project we had to do a free read. This was just a random book I grabbed off of our library's shelf and I didn't want to stop reading it once I started it. This story captures you and you feel as if your heart is with the children in this book. It also gives you insight to harsh situations that are happening around the world that may be different from your own. I do recommend this book and I look forward to reading other books by this author.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted May 25, 2006
In The Other Side of Truth, by Beverely Naidoo, many factual elements are presented. Although the main characters, Sade and Femi, are not real people, their story is the story of many: they snuck out of Nigeria to save themselves from the harsh political regime. The novel brings out themes of African political oppression, exile, and a harsh childhood. Although this novel is not as intriguing as others I have read, it shines a new light on your life. It reminds readers of how lucky they are to have a home, and how lucky they are to know that food will be laid on the table at all meals, and that they don¿t have to worry about their own safety like the characters in the book do. I believe that although the novel does not have mystery or intrigue involved, it highlights another theme that every one can relate to: loneliness. At one point or another we all eel alone, and because of this we can all relate to what the characters feel. The Other Side of Truth is an excellent example of what it really feels like to be an outsider, an exile, or simply different from every one around you. If you are looking for a heart-stopping novel then this is one that you must read.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted March 5, 2003
The Other Side Of Truth On The Other Side Of Truth every character finds out something different about them or their past. The book was a page turning book and once you start you will not want to stop. Back in time when there was a lot of hatred there lived two children. All the children are to get to a place were they can be free and away from all hatred so that they will not have to go through what they saw there own mother went to. The Other Side Of Truth Starts in a little town called Mayburn where a family lives and there is an uncle, mom, dad, grandma, and the two children. The children have just seen their mother be shot and killed in front of their house, on the front porch. Now the father and the uncle have to find a way to get the whole family to safety. On the way to England the kids go through many trials. And things happen to them. The story is a very good reading if you are into the way people used to live back in the 1930's and 40's. The Other Side Of Truth my personal opinion is that there are reasonable conflicts in the story. When you read the book its like you have mystery and a lot of conflicts put all together. The book makes you want to keep reading without stopping all the way to the end. The most effective part is the many different conflicts that happen to the whole family. The book really makes sense to me and I could actually understand, I think people should absolutely read The Other Side Of Truth. The book will not really make you aware of anything. Everyone has their own opinion about the book but the book to me does not really help you really help you realize anything. The Other Side Of Truth is really just a good book to enjoy and its really a page turner.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted December 7, 2011
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Posted November 9, 2013
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Posted July 15, 2013
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