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Saturday, June 18, 2011

This Thing Called The Future (Shanti)

Title: This Thing Called The Future (April 2011)
Author: J.L. Powers (USA)
Age group in store: 14+

Briefly, it's about:
14-year-old Khosi, a Zulu girl in South Africa, finds herself torn between the traditional ways of her grandmother and the modern, western-influenced attitudes of her mother. She is an exceptional Biology student at the private school that she attends on scholarship, but she also feels the strong call of the ancestors to become a traditional healer under the guidance of a village sangoma. Beyond all this, she wrestles to protect herself - her growing young woman's body - from the predatory advances of men who see her as a safeguard from the ravages of HIV and AIDS. Add to the mix her mother's not-so-sudden-but-alarmingly rapid decline in health and a vicious accusation that she has also wronged a neighbour, thus bringing a curse upon their home, and Khosi's daily challenges seem almost insurmountable. But she has a strong will and is fiercely loved and protected by her ancestors, one only hopes that it'll be enough to help build this thing called the future.

Shanti's Rave:
I came across this author and book in an interview in Shelf Awareness. Though brief, I really loved what she had to say and became interested in her background and journey. I ordered the book and read it in the course of a week...and really appreciated it. It's so hard to use the word "love" with books of this nature. It's a tough read, not without the fear, violence, poverty and disease often associated with contemporary stories of Africa. However there is also friendship, love, family and forgiveness. There is sacrifice, hard work, dreams and hope.

The author does a brilliant job as well of portraying the physical, social and psychological landscape of this South African township with a sense of both authenticity and dignity.

Her storytelling too was very moving and captivating, marrying elements of magical realism with stark facts and statistics on disease and violence in South Africa.

At the end of the book I felt very inspired and hopeful about Khosi's future though I'm certain the fight will be long and hard, but not without its rewards.
It's perfect for:

Readers interested in Social Activism, Social Development, Development in Africa, Girl Empowerment...

Readers interested in stories set in contemporary Africa.

# of stars: ****

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