From the author of Hum If You Don't Know the Words, a coming-of-age tale set in the outskirts of Johannesburg, where pregnant 17-year-old Zodwa lives in poverty under the shadowy threat of a civil war and a growing AIDS epidemic. Meanwhile, at a rural farm outside the city, estranged sisters Ruth and Delilah each face a personal crisis that sends them back to their childhood home, where they find a newborn baby on their doorstep who will inextricably link them to Zodwa.
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.