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Belonging in Africa Kindle Edition
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Sara, the protagonist of the novel, is a Dutch girl coming of age in Nairobi, Kenya in the 1970s. She has lived all over the world, as her father's job moved, but Kenya, Africa, is where she feels she belongs. Her overbearing parents want her to return to their native country, Holland, to be near her aunties and attend secretarial school. She wants to remain in Kenya.
She meets, and falls in love with Sam, a traditional African man, who is from Uganda. His father is imprisoned there, and Sam, as the first son of the first wife, is 'man of the family.' Sam has been accepted at university in London, and wants Sara to accompany him, and when their schooling is over, they will return to Kenya. However, he must first return to his family and make sure everything is in order before traveling so far.
This is Sara's dream come true. Until Fate steps in. While Sam is in Uganda, she receives a phone call that changes her life. Ignoring her father's demand she remain home, she journeys to the village of Sam's birth a young and naive girl. She returns to her home a few days later, a young woman of resolution.
Reading this book is like taking a trip through time to 1978 and a safari through parts of Africa where Jo has lived, but I have only dreamed. Jo tells a great story - I laughed, I cried, and I loved this book.
Recommended for eReaders.
Few of us were more mindful in our teenage decision making than Sara, but most of us did not face the risks that she did. The book has come back into my thinking from time to time so it has staying power.
In the late 1970s, Africa is also in transition. In Uganda Idi Amin has recently been ousted and another military regime has taken power. The young Ugandan man who captures Sara's heart is trying to better himself and in turn his home by adopting western ideas. However, his family still lives by many of the traditional ways, including polygamy.
Just as Sara and Sam begin to explore the serious relationship that they are in, everything changes leaving Sara in a challenging situation. She is compelled to journey to Uganda which is the center of Sam's traditional African family. It will be grueling, overwhelming and, most of all eye-opening. Sara will discover the real Africa and uncover unknown truths about Sam.
I enjoyed this novel that has so much to offer. The writing style is direct and the author tells the story without being melodramatic. Also, Ms. Alkamade avoids obvious clichés about her environment such as the use of language and visions of vast stretches of grasslands teeming with wildlife. I felt that I was reading about real living in a real place. The main character Sara was totally believable to me. She acted and thought like a teenager in love with the emotional gyrations that go with it. The goal of every writer is to place the reader into another world and make it come alive. At the end of this novel, I felt like I was covered with red powdery dirt with hair matted on my scalp just like Sara.