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NO TURNING BACK by Beverley Naidoo


by Beverley Naidoo

Age Range: 11 - 13

Pub Date: Jan. 30th, 1997
ISBN: 0-06-027505-7
Publisher: HarperCollins

 The bland, uninvolving story of Sipho, 12, who flees his drunken stepfather's brutality to live on the streets of Johannesburg. Sipho finds a gang of street children but is with them barely a week before Danny Lewis, a white shopkeeper, offers him steady work, paid for with new clothes, regular meals, and a room of his own. What Lewis does not offer is respect; that and his sullen son's antagonism soon drive Sipho back to the streets for one night, after which he settles in with his friend, Jabu, in a children's shelter. Not only is Sipho always able to find help with relative ease, but he encounters more discomfort than danger on the street: A botched experiment with glue-sniffing leaves him feeling ill; a midnight roundup by disguised police ends with a cold but anticlimactic dunk in a lake; food, money, even soap and water are not difficult to come by; incidents of violence and predation are implied, anecdotal, or offstage. The plot doesn't develop but proceeds until it stops, trailing off after a vaguely described peace rally and a brief visit home. Naidoo, with the acknowledged help of a corps of contemporary observers, effectively captures the mixed feelings with which South Africans are viewing the changes rapidly taking place in their country, but the story lacks the fire that made Journey to Jo'burg (1985) so compelling. (glossary) (Fiction. 11-13)