This book was recommended to me by Marysia. In all honesty I hadn’t heard of it before she told me to read it but seeing as I wanted to read more this year I thought I would give it ago. I read the English translation from Afrikaans.
In Africa a child wanders too far into the Knysna Forest. He never returns. Nine years later, two government officials, working on a census, find a white child living with a Coloured family in the mountains on the other side of the forest. They take him away from the stricken Fiela, who has brought him up, and give him back to his ‘original’ family. Whipped into using a new name and calling strangers ‘ma’ and ‘pa’, Benjamin is so stunned that the cannot cry and waits for Fiela to reclaim him. But Fiela, powerless before authority, never comes. So Benjamin has to grow up before he can go in search of the truth. (Synopsis from Amazon.co.uk)
I really enjoyed reading this book and would highly recommend it to anyone to add to their ‘to read lists’ as it had me hooked all the way through. The story tackles many different topics, race, identity, conflict, relationships.
Each character has a very different personality and the two families are completely different with how they treat one another. The home of each family as well as the other places the story is set is explained in such detail it really comes to life so that you can visualise the life of the characters.
Fiela was one of my favourite character’s a throughout the book, despite being forced to give up the child she raised she continued to love and encourage him. Her determination to ensure he carves his own path in life is incredible.
Another character I really liked was Nina as she was completely her own person despite the family around her. No matter how many times her father tried to make her ‘fit in’ to the norms she continued to be who she wanted to be.
I also liked how the ostriches and elephants (bigfeet) are almost characters in their own right in the book. The elephants are truly shown to be the powerful creatures that they are and I loved the story that goes along with Kicker and Pollie.
Considering this is probably a book I would never have come across I really enjoyed it and would highly recommend it.
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