South Africa, 1976: Joshua lives with his mother in the maid's room located in the backyard of their wealthy white employers' house in a city by the sea. While he initially doesn't quite understand the anti-apartheid struggle going on around him, his rescue of a stranger and the riots that begin to sweep the country put him face-to-face with it. As he discovers the despair weighing down the world beneath him, he must make heartbreaking decisions that will change his life forever. In this genuine, quietly unflinching, and beautifully nuanced novel, a veteran journalist captures a child's-eye view of the struggle that shaped a nation and riveted the world.
|Product dimensions:||6.04(w) x 5.04(h) x 1.13(d)|
|Age Range:||12 - 18 Years|
About the Author
Janice Warman is a journalist and editor whose career spans writing, editing, and broadcasting at a senior level for the BBC, The Observer, The Guardian, The Spectator, and Daily Mail. In addition to her journalism, she has also published two nonfiction books, including an account of three students who risked their lives to help abolish apartheid (The Class of ’79). Born in South Africa, she currently lives in England.
Debi Hawkins grew up and spent most of her life in Zimbabwe and now lives in Cape Town with her husband and three children. Having taught drama and directed children's theatre for many years, she is now acting, singing, and narrating full time. She was recently seen at The Rosebank Theatre in the very popular Murdering Agatha Christie, and her husband, Roger, wrote a semi-biographical play for her called Mpinga Mornings, for which she received rave reviews all over southern Africa.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
This novel was thin and was a fast read. I picked it up on a whim as the cover had been calling to me for weeks. There was something about the covers design and colors that attracted my attention. I wish I could give this novel glowing reviews since it has perked my attention for so long but unfortunately I thought the novel was just touching on the surface of a much deeper issue. I also was craving more information about the characters and their lives, why couldn’t the author elaborate more? The novel showcased the inequality that was occurring in the 1970’s in Africa as seen through the eyes of young Joshua. His mother was a maid trying to earn enough money to provide for her other children who live with her parents. Separated from his siblings, Joshua tries to stay out of the eyes of the wealthy owners as he tends to a few chores around the quarters. It’s his inquisitive mind and his childlike ways that spin this story off into another direction as Joshua runs an errand for the lady of the house and he finds himself distracted while trying to stay invisible. Joshua soon realizes that the world is a bigger place with problems that he never knew existed. It’s about rights and who is entitled to them and for young Joshua this is a new concept and one that he didn’t understand. I wished the author would have given more history and explanation of the time period and the characters as I thought parts of the novel were confusing and not as well addressed as they could have been. I did like the character of Joshua, his inquiring mind and his attitude brought the novel together.
A world unknown to many youth today is brought back to life by author Janice Warman in the mesmerizing young adult novel The World Beneath. It is 1976 in South Africa and apartheid is in full force. For young Joshua it is a scary time. He is living with his mother, Beauty, in white-dominated Cape Town. Beauty is a maid working for a wealthy white couple in their beautiful home. Out of necessity, she has left her other children behind in "Ciskei" (the designated areas for black people in South Africa at the time). Beauty managed to convince her employer's wife, Mrs. Malherbe, to allow Joshua to stay in the maid's quarters with her. Mrs. Malherbe agreed, but with the requirement that he stay out of the way, and pretty much hidden from her husband. If Mr. Malherbe should learn that Joshua is living at the estate, things might get ugly. This is the environment that Joshua is forced to grow up in - hiding in the cabinet with the family's dog, and running to his mother's room whenever he hears Mr. Malherbe's big Mercedes pull into the driveway. Joshua is too young to understand what apartheid is, he simply accepts that this is the way things are. But when he rescues Tsumalo, a young, injured man running from the police, Joshua slowly comes to realize what is happening all around him. While the Malherbes' marriage slowly dissolves, the couple's son, Robert, comes home to visit his mother. Joshua soon learns that this rich white man is sympathetic to the plight of blacks and while Joshua doesn't understand exactly what is going on, he does know that he doesn't have to hide when Robert is home. Soon, Beauty and Joshua's relatively safe living circumstances are threatened because the Malherbes' household is in turmoil. But the more frightening thing is that the country is being drawn into more and more violence. As events in South Africa escalate, Joshua's life changes and he is forced to grow up quickly. The World Beneath is the story of apartheid as seen through the eyes of a young boy. Author Janice Warman has done an excellent job of bringing this period of South African history to today's youth without being preachy. The story is never dull, and it is easy to feel for Joshua as he innocently discovers the world around him. As he grows, Joshua must make some hard decisions, which will determine what kind of person he will be. The World Beneath is a story that all young people should read! Quill says: An excellent story that brings the unspeakable horrors of apartheid to life in an unforgettable way for young readers.