Kirkus Reviews QR Code
INTO THE VALLEY by Michael Williams

INTO THE VALLEY

By Michael Williams

Age Range: 12 & up

Pub Date: June 23rd, 1993
ISBN: 0-399-22516-1
Publisher: Philomel

 Walter, a 16-year-old South African whose brother has just died in a military accident, is troubled by how little he knows about what goes on in his own country. When he reads about a band of Zulu boys who've sworn to defend their Natal town against rival Inkathas, he decides to seek out their leader, ``Biko.'' But though local people are polite, they wonder what the naive white boy is doing in their riot-torn province. Soon, skirting a minefield of issues and in serious danger, Walter is wondering too. He examines the mysteries--and his own motives--in a deftly wrought morality play in which he's exposed to white farmers, a corrupt factory- owner, the officer in charge of white troops, a store-owner, and a sage Indian potter, while continual shifts in point of view shed light on each character's dilemma. Eventually, Walter confronts the misguided ``Biko'' while the author works through the consequences. Williams (Crocodile Burning, 1992) is primarily a dramatist; his scenes and dialogue are strong, but he omits transitions and nuances that might be self-evident in theater--black characters, especially, are viewed from a white perspective, even where Walter isn't the narrator. Still, a high-caliber adventure that offers a thoughtful insider's view of a complex, intransigent cultural conflict. Winner of South Africa's 1990 Sanlam Prize for Youth Literature. (Fiction. 12+)