Thursday, December 26, 2019

Book Review - Journey to Jo'burg: A South African Story, by Beverley Naidoo

Guest review by: Becki Bayley

As they turned toward the road, there was a bus with the word “PARKTOWN” in big letters on the front. It was slowing down a little way up the road and the doors were opening. Through the front windscreen they could see the driver was black.

“Come on, Tiro!” called Naledi, pulling him by the arm. They were just about to jump aboard, when someone shouted at them in English. “What’s wrong with you? Are you stupid?”

Startled, they looked up at the angry face of the bus driver and then at the bus again. White faces stared at them from inside as the bus moved off.

Naledi and Tiro stood on the side of the road, shaken, holding hands tightly, when a voice behind them said, “Don’t let it bother you. That’s what they’re like. You’d better come out of the road.”

A young woman put out her hand to bring them onto the pavement.

“You must be strangers here if you don’t know about the buses. This stop has a white sign, but we have to wait by the black one over there.”

Targeted to kids aged 9-12 years, this book tells the story of Naledi and Tiro and their journey to get help for their little sister Dineo.

Official synopsis:
Book Review - Journey to Jo'burg: A South African Story, by Beverley Naidoo
Separated from their mother by the harsh social and economic conditions prevalent among blacks in South Africa, thirteen-year-old Naledi and her younger brother make a journey over 300 kilometers to find her in Johannesburg.

Mma lives and works in Johannesburg, far from the village Naledi and Tiro call home. When their baby sister suddenly becomes very sick, Naledi and Tiro know, deep down, that only one person can save her.

Bravely, alone, they set off on a journey to find Mma and bring her back. It isn't until they reach the city that they come to understand the dangers of their country, and the painful struggle for freedom and dignity that is taking place all around them.

While I read my fair share of YA, this is for a bit younger crowd. The language is more simple, and the plot is not intricate. The story is really just to show the reality of children dealing with apartheid and the great disparity between their lives and those of the wealthy whites in Johannesburg and the experiences during their journey.

I’d give this book 2.5 out of 5 stars. While written well, I feel the simple language kind of detracted from the seriousness and reality of the issue. But I’m not sure how that could be worked around. It would be hard for the privileged children I know to absorb the reality in this book.

{click here to purchase}


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