Saturday, 5 September 2009

The Boy Next Door by Irene Sabatini

Lindiwe's neighbour, 17 year old Ian, has confessed and is convicted of killing his step-mother. After a year and a half, the conviction is quashed and he is released. Lindiwe and Ian meet up again and establish a sort of relationship. It all seems very casual and innocent, except that this is the period of Zimbabwe independence and there are tensions everywhere. Between whites and blacks, between blacks and coloureds, between army and non army.

Lindiwe is coloured and Ian is white. She is still a school girl and Ian is an ex-con. Lindiwe continues with her education at University while Ian travels to South Africa and finds himself work as a photo journalist. Years later Ian returns to Zimbabwe and bumps into her and they resume their 'friendship'.

I loved reading how these two develop their relationship. It just sort of seems to happen. A meeting and a soda, a visit to a museum, another day, a drive home from school. Other seeming random meetings.
There didn't seem to be any one moment when it went from a casual friendship with a neighbour to a 'relationship'. That matched how there were no specific rules for how the whites and coloured citizens related to each other. Each character in the story seemed to follow their own set of guidelines of how they chose to interact with each other.

Lindiwe attended a mixed school and by the time she was a University she had a very mixed assortment of friends from a number of countries. She is very secure in her interactions with them regardless of their race or career. When it comes to Ian , she is wondering if he finds the white girls and their smooth hair more attractive than her black hair. I didn't view this as a racist issue, rather of one woman comparing herself to others woman and wondering how she ranks in her lover's eyes. I enjoyed their moments of tenderness and Ian's concern for Lindiwe that was always evident. I felt that together they made a terrific pair that was much stronger than the two of them separately.

While many secrets were revealed in this book, why Ian's mother left him, what both fathers did in the military, others we were only left with clues. Rather like the country itself, it was still in the building process at that time and it had secrets that would only be reviewed in time.

For a reading guide, visit Irene Sabatini's site and click on links.


5 comments:

Petty Witter said...

Hi, just visiting via Sherries Books, where I too received the zombie chicken award. This sounds like a really good read, yet another to be to added to my to be read box.

(M)ary said...

soooo...you are saying that some of the secrets remain unsolved. that can be frustrating! i am currently in a mystery reading mode probably because i am craving resolution at the the end of the books i read.


ps....i was talking to an African-American woman at work about hair. she kept saying "our hair is...." and "your hair is..." our being black people and your being white people. but i didn't see it like that. not all white people have the same sort of hair and not all black people have the exact same hair. we are all mixed race so our hair depends on our particular set of ancestors which can be quite a rainbow of folks here in the US.
so, yeah, i agree with you, to me it is more about women comparing themselves to other women.

Heather said...

HI Mary,I think they left things unanswered, such as what her father and his friend really did during the war and whether they were forced to be on the white side because the country is unfinished, still a work in progress and it will be revealed over time. Only later will all the truths be known.

And hair, yes, I totally agree. My hair is more the straight kind and I have always wanted more wave in it, yet my other sister has some curls and she straightens it.

Heather said...

HI Mary,I think they left things unanswered, such as what her father and his friend really did during the war and whether they were forced to be on the white side because the country is unfinished, still a work in progress and it will be revealed over time. Only later will all the truths be known.

And hair, yes, I totally agree. My hair is more the straight kind and I have always wanted more wave in it, yet my other sister has some curls and she straightens it.

bermudaonion said...

This book sounds wonderful. I'm anxious to read it now!