A Shona girl ejected from her home shares thought-provoking parallels with a white girl forced from her own 25 years later.
Fourteen-year-old Tariro loves her life, her family and her home under the baobab tree, but all that goodness comes crashing down when a Rhodesian colonialist claims the rich farmland for himself. Her fiancé is beaten so badly he loses his sight, while she’s brutally raped by the white man. Fast-forward from 1964 to 2000, and meet Katie, also 14. Despite the revolution, whites still own most of the land and wealth in the nation now known as Zimbabwe. Katie adores her father and loves her farm under the baobab tree. While Katie’s and Tariro’s feelings about their homes run lyrically side-by-side, their home lives are not so similar. Tariro’s family, pre-eviction, is nigh-idyllic. Katie’s (lest readers over-sympathize) is peopled by sexist drunks and abusive racists. Katie’s love for her home and family are sincere, though, and her own forced eviction is moving. Coincidence brings Tariro and Katie together long enough to help Katie understand the history of her family. While the Karanga and Afrikaans heavily peppered throughout are used flavorfully enough to make a glossary unnecessary, a historical note would provide vital context about Zimbabwe’s complicated present; readers could be forgiven for finding Robert Mugabe a hero.
Unsubtle in all the right ways. (Fiction. 13-17)