Hum If You Don't Know the Words Audible Audiobook – Unabridged
Perfect for fans of The Secret Life of Bees and The Help, a perceptive and searing look at Apartheid-era South Africa, told through one unique family brought together by tragedy.
Life under Apartheid has created a secure future for Robin Conrad, a 10-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.
Told through Beauty's and Robin's alternating perspectives, the interwoven narratives create a rich and complex tapestry of the emotions and tensions at the heart of Apartheid-era South Africa. Hum If You Don't Know the Words is a beautifully rendered look at loss, racism, and the creation of family.
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|Listening Length||14 hours and 25 minutes|
|Narrator||Katharine Lee McEwan, Bahni Turpin|
|Audible.ca Release Date||July 11 2017|
|Best Sellers Rank|| #18,600 in Audible Books & Originals (See Top 100 in Audible Books & Originals) |
#189 in Coming of Age Fiction (Audible Books & Originals)
#1,033 in Literary Fiction (Audible Books & Originals)
#1,191 in Historical Fiction (Audible Books & Originals)
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Personally I advise you to not read the back cover which lets out too much of what the story is about.
10 out of 10 for this one!
This story is told from the alternating points of view of both Robin and Beauty, and the two storylines are woven together beautifully. All of the characters, major and minor, are well drawn and complex. I was sucked in from the very beginning. I absolutely loved most of it.
Where it fell apart for me was right near the end. The actions Robin takes to correct her grievous wrong, and the results of those actions, are so highly improbable as to break the bonds of suspended disbelief. Furthermore, the adult Robin steps in with a lecture about racism and prejudice and how we are all more alike than unlike. If an author must step up on a soapbox in order for the reader to get the message, the author has failed. The sad part is that the soapbox was completely unnecessary here. Marais brilliantly illustrated the evils of Apartheid throughout the book, just by the circumstances and actions/dialogue of the characters. Choosing to make Robin poor, for example, demonstrated that even the lowest of whites were far better off than any blacks. So, running smack into a lecture right at the end of the books was doubly frustrating.
Still, "Hum if You Don't Know the Words" opens a window on a culture most of us know little about and, given the direction some western nations are heading, it is very timely. Unfortunately.
Although there are parts where I felt it was far fetched (no little white girl on her own would leave Soweto at night unharmed, nevermind going into a shebeen, IMO) , it was also just a story and a lovely one at that.