Book Review

HUM IF YOU DON’T KNOW THE WORDS by Bianca Marais

Rating: 5 / 5

I have been wanting to read a Bianca Marais book for a long time so I was thrilled to get a chance to join in with the #notyomamasbookclub read of HUM IF YOU DON’T KNOW THE WORDS in January.

HUM IF YOU DON’T KNOW THE WORDS focuses on two narrators living in Apartheid-era South Africa. Robin is a nine year old white girl living in Johannesburg, her father a man high up in the management of the mines. Beauty is a widowed Xhosa woman living in a rural village with her children. They live in two very different worlds, divided by race, setting and wealth.

In the Soweto Uprising, a protest by black students leads to a violent racial conflict. Robin’s parents are killed and she is sent to live with her aunt. Beauty’s daughter is involved in the conflict and is missing. Coming to the city to search for her daughter, Beauty is hired on to take care of Robin while her aunt is away for work. Together they form a unique and not exactly legal family.

I loved this book! This was my top read of January and what a way to kick off the year! I did this book partially in print and partially on audio and it was beautiful in any format! Robin is such an interesting character and so well portrayed. She is a young girl dealing with grief after losing her parents and the life that she knew. She’s now thrust into a situation where everything is unsure and the beliefs about the differences between whites and blacks are severely challenged. Her growth over the course of the book is amazing.

The way the relationship is built up between Beauty and Robin is also beautifully done. Beauty is torn between finding her daughter while missing her sons at home, but she is also forming this intense bond with Robin. The strength of their relationship allows Beauty to challenge Robin to broaden her beliefs.

This was an amazing novel and I can’t wait to get my hands on more from Bianca Marais. This book definitely left room for more to Beauty and Robin’s story and I’d love to read a sequel!

Reading Challenges:

#MMDChallenge – a debut novel

1 thought on “HUM IF YOU DON’T KNOW THE WORDS by Bianca Marais”

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