Being born and raised in Zimbabwe, I almost feel biased writing this review. Zimbabwe shares its southern border with South Africa, so a lot of the language and culture shared throughout the book is familiar to me, and reading this book left me with a feeling of nostalgia for the good times of those old days.
The book is set in South Africa during the apartheid era and is a compelling story that shows how the racial divide resulted in such stark differences to the way the main characters’ lived their day to day lives.
Robin, a mere ten-year-old, is able to get away with things a grown black person cannot. It is amazing to see how her childlike decisions impact the story, and I would like to think that she had the boldness to carry out her ideas and actions mainly because of the advantages she had because she was white. A black child would have never been able to carry out some of Robin’s shenanigans. In the same breath, however, I am left admiring the courageous love that Robin has for her caregiver, Beauty, and the lengths to which she would go to in trying to keep Beauty in her life. Robin also shows us that when children are left to their own accord, without proper adult supervision, they feel obligated to solve big-people problems from their immature understanding of the real world.
Living a completely different life in the same country is Beauty, who leaves her rural home in search of her daughter, who is rumoured to have joined the resistance. I was challenged by Beauty’s tenacity, and the way she did not hesitate to look at fear in the face, prepared to give her life, as long as she could find her daughter. She did not give up, even when her life was in danger. Each in their own unique way, beauty and Robin personify the strength and courage of love.
The story also shows how important black caregivers were to the lives of the white South African children. Despite what these wonderful caregivers suffered from their employers, and the pain they carried from being separated from their own young children, they still gave the white children the love and attention which their mothers sometimes failed to give. In my opinion, it was as if the Black caregivers had looked into the future and saw that they could build a better next generation, by sowing the seed of love and equality in the children that they cared for.
I thoroughly enjoyed reading this book. I shed some tears in some spots, laughed in others, and felt my heart race in other spots. Bianca Marias has just become one of my new favourite authors. I can’t wait to read her other book, If You Want To Make God laugh.