Author: Irma Joubert
Publisher: Thomas Nelson
Release Date: October 18, 2016
Rating: 5 Stars
Reviewer: Jessica Higgins
Joubert’s stories open my eyes to parts of history I’ve never explored! Child of the River is no exception and I love the historical accuracy she brings to the table!
Persomi is a poor, white sharecropper living within the bushveld of South Africa. Her father is a drunk who beats the kids and her ma, who is one day taken away by the police for having an improper relationship with her older sister. The welfare officers also take her two youngest siblings away as one is sick and the baby doesn’t have enough food to eat. But they recognize that Persomi is clever and work to get her accepted to a boarding school to advance her studies rather than staying at the farm. As she attends high school during World War II, she begins to learn about politics throughout South Africa. The current prime minister is an English sympathizer, something that many throughout the country do not share. When the change in power comes in the country, so do many laws restricting the rights of non-white people throughout the country. Persomi has been friends with some Indian shop keepers in her town and believes that this is not right. After all, they’ve had the land since before 1900.
Persomi gets accepted into the university and earns her law degree. She gets established back in her hometown at the firm of De Vos and De Vos, where she suddenly finds herself with a case to try and circumvent the law that forces non-whites to relocate their homes, schools, and businesses out of an area that has been zoned for whites. As she works this case, she makes many discoveries that affect not only her career, but her life as well.
I absolutely love reading Irma Joubert’s stories because they are so historically accurate. Further, she opens my mind to histories that I’ve never explored, particularly about South Africa. I really enjoyed The Girl from the Train and it led me in direction that I didn’t think it would. Similarly, I thought this book was going to focus on World War II more, but it really didn’t spend much time on that event. It really delved more into the South African politics during and after the war, which in itself was really interesting. Joubert also makes me do research throughout the novel to find out more about the events she is writing about. Thankfully she started the book with a glossary for South African words and phrases or I would have had to spend even more time on the research, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing.
Joubert also has the ability to really bring her central character to life and have the reader enter into a very personal relationship with her. I felt like I had known Persomi my entire life, but as a true friend, not as an outsider who would see her as a sharecropper’s child. It takes a lot of skill to create this relationship and she does a great job.
As with The Girl from the Train, this novel has tremendous scenery creations that take the reader to different parts of South Africa. I could see Persomi’s mountain, feel the sand blowing down the main street, and sit in the cave with Persomi and Boelie.
I recommend this book for lovers of historical fiction as well as those who just love a great story.
I received a complimentary copy of this book from the publisher. The views and opinions expressed within are my own.