Wednesday, 27 April 2011

Stones for my Father by Trilby Kent

Children are the most resilient.  They can turn an untenable situation into a positive action.  Adults tend to be so set in their ways that they are unable to see any other option but to continue doing what they were doing.  Corlie Roux was put in a situation of adapt or die.  At twelve years old, she knew there was so much more to life than she had seen so far.  Growing up in 1890's South Africa with her Boer family was hard.  Her father died when she was 9 and she now lived with her ever resentful mother and two younger brothers, whom she doted on.  Now the war had reached their doorstep and they had to flee.

This was not the end of Corlie's trials. She watched as her lifelong playmate and soul mate Sipho (was he a Zulu?) was torn away from his family and destined for a cruel fate.  When her mother dealt the final blow, it was questionable whether Corlie could survive.

I have read very few books set in Africa and even fewer set in South Africa.  All the ones that I have read have a grittiness to them.  In this case, the two sets of immigrants, the British and the Boers are battling for control of a land that was not theirs to start with.  The children are caught in the midst.  It was clear to me through the whole story that these same children, Corlie and Sipho were the ones best suited to survive.  They were willing to work together and ignore their differences of colour and religion. 

This story captivated me.  I didn't want to put it down once I started to read.  Corlie seemed such a good girl.  She did all the tasks her mother set to her even when she knew that they would not be appreciated.  She craved the love that her mother withheld from her yet lavished on her brothers.  While she did get affection from Sipho's mother, it wasn't what she yearned for.  It was when she met Corporal Malachi Byrne that she finally found a sense of appreciation.   I liked how Ms. Kent built up the relationship between the two of them.  They didn't speak the same language, but through their actions they were able to become friends.  To me, that is a true testament of trust.  Even though they had limited history together, they were able to sense the need and the honesty of the other. 

I felt that this story contains enough historical fact to be a good introduction to that period in history.  It would be a good launching point for further research at the grade school level.  I will be passing this along to my daughter to read.

Tundra Books is hosting a  5 day blog tour of Stones for My Father by Trilby Kent.  Be sure to visit their blog for links to all the stops on the tour. 

Trilby Kent's blog.

Five copies of Stones for my Father will by given away on Goodreads.  You must be a member of Goodreads to enter, membership is free.  Canada and US only.  Contest closed May 1, 2011.

To learn more about the vervet that Corlie and Gert befriend, check out this Wikipedia article
Biltong, a dried, cured meat, is described in this article
A short history of the Canadian involvement in this second Boer War.

Thank-you to Tundra Books for my review copy and for the use of the cover photo.


Stacey said...

I really enjoyed your points abour the adaptability of children and their resiliance as well as how Corlie and Sipho were the ones best suited to survive.

You are so right to point out there is an underlying point to this tale too about remaining rigid in one's beliefs (like the Afrikaans and British) and willing to put survival and friendship ahead of holding fast to one's principles (like Corlie, Sipho and the Canadian soldier -always the Canadians who are the compromises eh?! :)

Great review!

Journey of a Bookseller said...

Very nice review. I particularly enjoyed the links to the various sites for more information on types of food and history. Good job!

Joann said...

What a good review! But I agree, her mom was just terrible, but she was brave. Thanks for the comment!

bermudaonion said...

Wow, that sounds like quite a story. I don't think I've ever read a book set in South Africa. Great review!

Unknown said...

Did you read the book in an afternoon, like I did, and then become surprised when you realised it was classed as a Young Adult novel?

Great review!

Hey, I want to read that! said...

I have such a hard time with stories where children are forced to be adults but this sounds like such a good read. I don't know if I've read anything set in South Africa, I kind of remember, maybe I have (how's that for decisive?). Part of the draw of this book would be learning a little something about the local.