Rating: 5 / 5
I absolutely loved HUM IF YOU DON’T KNOW THE WORDS by Bianca Marais earlier this year and was lucky to get to participate in an author chat about that book which touched on her second book as well. I have been eager to read her second book IF YOU WANT TO MAKE GOD LAUGH ever since! When I saw a buddy read for this one announced, I immediately signed up!
IF YOU WANT TO MAKE GOD LAUGH follows three women living in post-Apartheid South Africa in the middle of the AIDS crisis. Zodwa is a seventeen year old black girl living in poverty outside of Johannesburg. Pregnant as a result of a rape, she is caring for her ailing mother and trying to figure out what is next for her life. Ruth is a wealthy woman who is hiding a very personal pain at her inability to have a baby. Her sister Delilah is dealing with tragedies of her own. Both women wind up heading back to their childhood home where they discover an abandoned baby on their front step.
I really love Bianca Marais’ writing because it immediately had me hooked into the story, feeling for each of these women and their own heartbreaks. The ways the womens’ lives become intertwined as the mystery of the abandoned baby unfolds is done so well! The story is told from all three points of view and the voice of each is very unique to the narrator. There are complicated relationships and secrets long kept hidden that are unpacked as the story unfolds.
The story is heartbreaking, touching on family losses, rape, violence, AIDS, racism and death, but it is also uplifting to see lives changed by friendship and family. Seeing the heartbreak of the AIDS epidemic in South Africa during this time period was very eye opening as well. The diagnosis is considered a death sentence for many, complicated by issues of race, poverty and the public’s general ignorance and fear.
Bianca Marais is absolutely an auto-buy author for me after these two incredible reads and I hope to have more to read from her in the future!