UNDER WATER by J.L. Powers


Age Range: 14 & up
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Khosi, a 17-year-old Zulu woman, seeks to fully inhabit both spiritual traditions in which she was raised while struggling to support her younger sister, Zi.

Baptized Catholic and later chosen for induction into the spiritual traditions of her ancestors, Khosi’s fight for survival begins the day she welcomes guests to mourn her grandmother. Her Auntie is suspicious that Khosi bewitched Gogo, who had looked after Khosi and Zi since their mother passed away from HIV three years earlier. As Khosi is left with no support from her family, her beau, Little Man, sets a plan in motion to assist her—however his good intentions go awry, placing them all in physical danger. Soon after the funeral, Khosi also breaks the deathbed promises she made to her grandmother. Under the watchful eye of her ancestors, she stumbles along, setting up her own business as a spiritual healer. While the voices of the ancestors are ever present to guide her, her nursing ambitions and insightful understanding of familial relations enable her to give holistic advice to her customers. Learning of the trouble brewing in her area, Khosi delivers warnings to those involved and ends up the target of multiple groups seeking to cause her harm. This intriguing story is set against a backdrop of social upheaval due to economic discontent in contemporary, multicultural South Africa.

This slowly building novel avoids stereotype, offering a captivating narrative with nuanced perceptions of death, love, and cathartic self-discovery. (Fiction. 14-adult)

Pub Date: Jan. 15th, 2019
ISBN: 978-1-947627-04-8
Page count: 208pp
Publisher: Cinco Puntos
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1st, 2018


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