We are the young people,
We will not be broken!
We demand freedom
"Away with slavery
In our land of Africa!"
For almost fifty years apartheid forced the young people of South Africa to live apart as Blacks, Whites, Indians, and "Coloreds." This unique and dramatic collection of stories -- by native South African and Carnegie Medalist Beverley Naidoo -- is about young people's choices in a beautiful country made ugly by injustice.
Each story is set in a different decade during the last half of the twentieth century and into the twenty-first, and features fictional characters caught up in very real events. Included is a Timeline Across Apartheid, which recounts some of the restrictive laws passed during this era, the events leading up to South Africa's first free democratic elections, and the establishment of a new "rainbow government" that leads the country today.
A Junior Library Guild Selection
Spanning 52 years of South African unrest, Naidoo's (Journey to Jo'burg; The Other Side of Truth) insightful and suspenseful stories offer multiple perspectives of apartheid. Each of the seven young protagonists featured here come to understand the meaning of oppression as they witness or experience the effects of gross injustice. Veronica, a white girl, escapes punishment for stealing a neighbor's flower, then watches how a Native child is severely beaten for a similar crime, in the first story, set in 1948. In "The Noose," a 10-year-old boy in 1955 watches how segregation grips his family "fully by the throat" when his father, a man of mixed race, is mistakenly classified as "black," and the potential this has for impacting all areas of his life: his work, his neighborhood and the family. Although all selections focus on struggle, not all end in defeat. The winds of change become increasingly strong as the stories progress. One of the most poignant, uplifting moments comes in the final story (the titular tale, set in the year 2000) when, during the aftermath of a flood, two boys of different races risk crossing their social boundaries to aid a woman giving birth. In less than 200 pages, Naidoo manages to chronicle pivotal events in an ongoing battle for freedom in South Africa and to encapsulate the enduring hope and unfailing spirit of its people. Ages 10-up.