Incorporating characters from her first book, Marais shows how the lives of Zodwa, Ruth, and Delilah overlap in unexpected ways ... As with her debut, Marais excels at creating compelling characters; readers will be turning the pages, wondering what life has in store for each.
Marais’s prose is as overwrought as the plot ... Most problematic is Marais’s stylistic choice to narrate her white characters’ chapters in the first person, while narrating their black employee’s in the third. The author’s inability to imagine Zodwa as equally self-realizing as her white 'sisters' is even more glaring given the teenager’s portrayal as precocious and politically conscious ... At a time when South Africa—young, black South Africa in particular—is actively questioning the very premise of Nelson Mandela’s 'Rainbow Nation,' it is quite astonishing to read a novel that does not raise any new (or even old) questions of either the transition to post-apartheid democracy or the realities of 'non-racial' sisterhood. Perhaps Marais is afraid of the answers to such questions. Ultimately, sentimentality hinders Marais’s ability to really know post-apartheid South Africa, and its women, at all.
Amid the chaos of white supremacists, racism, and the AIDS epidemic, each woman is searching for her own path toward mending a broken heart. This earnest novel burns with the consequences of forbidden romance, betrayal, and the redemptive power of love.
Set against the backdrop of the Mandela presidency, the Afrikaner Resistance Movement, and the burgeoning AIDS epidemic, the story offers a look into the staggering emotional cost of secrecy, broken family bonds, racism, and sexual violence. Marais once again showcases her talent for pulling beauty from the pain of South African history with a strong story and wonderfully imperfect characters.
Shame animates all three protagonists, who lubricate these pages with tears—it's hard to think of another novel with as much weeping. Marais strikes a jaunty tone even as she salts her story with rape, HIV, racism, and homophobia. The writing is breathless and fraught ... Every character could use a copy of Girl, Stop Apologizing.