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****Out of Bounds

Seven Stories of Conflict and Hope

by Beverley Naidoo

Reviewed May 6, 2003.
HarperCollins Publishers, New York, 2003.  175 pages.
A Sonderbooks’ Stand-out of 2003:  #2, Short Story Collections

I knew this book would be good, since Beverley Naidoo’s earlier book, The Other Side of Truth, was outstanding.  Since I’m not crazy about short stories, it took me awhile to start this book after I had checked it out.  Once I started reading, I was hooked.  I hadn’t realized how little I knew about apartheid.

The seven stories in this book are set in South Africa at key turning points under apartheid.  A time line at the back of the book explains the progression of events.  The first story, set in 1948, deals with the beginnings of prejudice, as a black boy takes blame for something a white girl did.  The next story, set in 1955, shows a family torn apart when the father is defined to be “Black” (despite his white grandfather) instead of “Colored” like the rest of the family.  It will make his marriage illegal and means he will lose his job.  The story is related by one of the boys in the family.  The final story, set in 2000, shows a child helping in a small way to overcome lingering hostility between races.

The writing is well-crafted.  All the stories are from children’s perspectives and simply tell events that might have happened.  This vivid approach to history will make these events stick in my mind much more thoroughly than a book of facts might have done.  This is a powerful book that will get kids thinking about prejudice and injustice.

Copyright © 2003 Sondra Eklund.  All rights reserved. 
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