From School Library Journal
Grade 5-7-This powerful collection takes readers on a sometimes harrowing journey through the nightmare that was apartheid South Africa. The stories take place at various times between 1948, the year that marks the beginning of apartheid, through 2000. The main characters, who come from different ethnic and economic groups, are all children, and Naidoo's reliance on a child's perspective ensures that the material remains emotionally manageable. The author's touch is deft and sure, as she captures the ordinary details of life, along with the racism displayed in the speech and attitudes of white South Africans. In one of the most wrenching stories, "The Noose," a boy of mixed race relates how on his birthday his father was reclassified "African," thus imperiling not only his job, but even his ability to live with his family. Other stories tell of the white daughter of politically progressive parents who is trying to negotiate the racist world of her friend's parents, and a black African girl whose grandmother is drawn into helping her activist granddaughter during the Soweto uprising of 1976. The final story, about a middle-class boy of Indian descent who comes to feel a connection to a child living in a neighboring squatter settlement, leaves readers with the hope that human kindness will eventually triumph over the divisions among people. A time line of apartheid laws linked to the stories helps to establish the social and political context. As well as enriching any study of Southern Africa or human rights, Out of Bounds will be embraced by children seeking to expand their understanding of the world and other people.
Sue Giffard, Ethical Culture Fieldston School, New York City
Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information, Inc.
Gr. 6-10. Each of these short stories, set in a different decade in South Africa, from the 1950s onward, personalizes the political oppression and struggle from the viewpoint of a child. What was it like to be a "Coloured" (mixed-race) child under apartheid and be separated from your father when he was reclassified as black? To be a white boy shunned at school because your "Commie" parents have "native" friends? To hear your mother ordered around and called "girl" by her white employer? Or to be one of the first black students in an all-white school that doesn't want you? More docudrama than fiction, this book doesn't have the depth and complexity of Naidoo's The Other Side of Truth (2001), but Naidoo knows her country's history--the crude, ignorant racism, the suffering, the courage--and her diverse young viewpoints bring the politics of oppression and struggle into daily life. This will be an invaluable starting point for group discussion about contemporary South African history, especially when read with the introductory historical overview and the endnotes about each decade. Archbishop Tutu's moving foreword speaks of the incredible absence of revenge and retribution in the new South Africa, and many of these stories show that hope lies in personal connections. Hazel Rochman
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