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Sunday, March 29, 2020

Review: Hum If You Don't Know The Words by Bianca Marais #BuddyReadToDieFor @BiancaM_author @putnambooks

Hum If You Don't Know The Words 
by Bianca Marais

March's #BuddyReadToDieFor choice.

Publisher: G.P. Putnam's Sons
Publish Date: July 11, 2017
Kindle Edition
432 Pages
Genre: Historical Fiction

Life under Apartheid has created a secure future for Robin Conrad, a nine-year-old white girl living with her parents in 1970s Johannesburg. In the same nation but worlds apart, Beauty Mbali, a Xhosa woman in a rural village in the Bantu homeland of the Transkei, struggles to raise her children alone after her husband's death. Both lives have been built upon the division of race, and their meeting should never have occurred . . . until the Soweto Uprising, in which a protest by black students ignites racial conflict, alters the fault lines on which their society is built, and shatters their worlds when Robin’s parents are left dead and Beauty’s daughter goes missing.

After Robin is sent to live with her loving but irresponsible aunt, Beauty is hired to care for Robin while continuing the search for her daughter. In Beauty, Robin finds the security and family that she craves, and the two forge an inextricable bond through their deep personal losses. But Robin knows that if Beauty finds her daughter, Robin could lose her new caretaker forever, so she makes a desperate decision with devastating consequences. Her quest to make amends and find redemption is a journey of self-discovery in which she learns the harsh truths of the society that once promised her protection. 

My Review:

What I love about Janelle and I partnering to do #BuddyReadToDieFor is the diversity in our reads for each month.  This book is probably not the type of book I would normally pick up... or at least not read any time soon as it's not particularly within my reading wheelhouse.  However, this was our March choice and I am SO glad that it was.  I am equally excited to discuss this book with the author herself in our group chat tomorrow evening. 

I'm going to try and keep this review short and sweet.  We get the POVs of Robin and Beauty, who inexplicably find themselves in each other's lives after both going through terrible losses and have harrowing pasts - Robin as a young girl and Beauty as an adult.  What stems from this relationship are many lessons learned, a look into racism, loss, suffering, unexpected friendships/families and a love that neither of them knew they could have.

This book did start a little slow for me and I was afraid that maybe I was right in thinking this might not be quite the read for me.  Then slowly, with each chapter, I began to really find myself involved in their stories and had gone through a gauntlet of emotions.  Rage against all the racism and homophobia, love and sympathy for what they were going through and then Chapter 51 came and knocked me sideways and put me in tears.  Geeeeeeez Bianca, why don't you just make a girl feel will ya?

Basically, you've seen the hype and the hype is real.  Marais has a gift with words and this story will absolutely pierce your heart.  Prepare yourself, it's worth the ride.


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