by NoViolet Bulawayo

This is another book for category 14. A book by an author of a different ethnicity than you. It could also be read for Book 22. A book with alliteration in the title, and Book 49. A book about a problem facing society today.

My point, really, is that it is a book that should be read.

The first part of this book tells the story of Darling, a young girl in Zimbabwe. She, her family and her friends are all living  in shacks after their homes, and entire suburb, had been bulldozed to the ground by Mugabe’s people. Her father is working away, as is her mother. No one goes to school anymore and she and her friends run riot in the shanty town they have been shunted to.

The juxtaposition of the childish delights Darling and her friends indulge in and the horrors of the world around them is moving and disturbing. They play ordinary games and do ordinary things like steal guavas and throw stones. But they also want to remove the baby from their 10-year old friend’s tummy, and steal food because they are starving.

These are not things kids should be doing.

Darling, unlike her friends, has an escape option. Her aunt lives in America and as a teenager she leaves Africa for America.

This second part of the book deals with the otherness she feels as an immigrant and a black person in Michigan. She deals with teasing and the threat of deportation, as well as the hopelessness so many undocumented immigrants must feel all over the world.

In synopsis this book sounds bleak and depressing. It is not. Darling as a child is fabulous – as are her friends. You will smile at their antics even as you realise the larger setting of their lives.

As a teenager Darling is, in many ways, typical. She may be different from a lot of the teens around her in many ways, but teens are teens.

I think Bulawayo could have made this into two books – one in Zimbabwe and the second in America. There is so much to the story she is telling it could easily have been stretched.

But as a single book this story will whack you upside the head, but make you laugh while it does it.

 

Get it, read it, and be aware of the actual lives so many people live – right now!

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