Sunday, June 21, 2009

The Boy Next Door by Irene Sabatini

What caught my eye on this one was the story line and the fact that it was set in Zimbabwe. I have visited with a white female author who lived in Zimbabwe, and her life was threatened, the farm they had in her family for over 100 years was taken over by the black government, and food and fuel cost so much she couldn't even afford to leave the country.

This novel talks about two neighbors, one family white and one family black and the interaction between them. It also discusses all the changes going on for anyone who lives in Zimbabwe and how the cultural differences often cause misunderstandings and anger.

It turns out most people in this story have secrets - many of them from war activities or family troubles.

Lindiwe Bishop is black and has only seen the boy next door from a distance. He's white, older, and it's inappropriate for them to have any contact. But when his stepmother gets burned alive and they charge him with her murder, she doesn't believe it's true.

When his sentence gets commuted for lack of evidence (after he's spent some time in prison) she's fascinated by his return home. And, as time goes on, they become friends. It's very tentative in the beginning and both have reservations with each other. But they also like each other.

When he decides to move on, she tries to get him to take her with him, but he won't. He does write, though. And, when he gets back to town, he comes to meet her and chat.

By the time, she has a new boyfriend, Jean, a Frenchman. She admits this to Ian, and he realizes he's probably waited to long to claim her. But she goes away with him on the weekend because she wants to.

He debates what the mixed signals mean, but is resigned to let her make up her own mind. As they get ready to go back after the weekend, he needs some change and she tells him to take some out of her purse.

That, in turn, lets the "cat out of the bag". He finds a picture of her son - who is obviously his!

At the moment, her mother is raising the boy as her own and doesn't even let her visitation rights with him. She gave up all her rights when she became an unwed mother with a white lover as far as her mother is concerned. There are more reasons behind it than this (her father wanted a boy and her mother didn't have one), but Lindiwe didn't want her mother to keep her child - she wanted to love and care for him herself.

Ian decides to go after his son, and she goes with him. Their life continues to be complicated by the differences in race, in culture, and in temperaments.

I enjoyed reading about how they tried to overcome differences, how they were viewed by friends and family, and how they kept on trying despite all that. It's also a good look at the country of Zimbabwe.

To see if they succeeded and if they kept their son, you'll have to read the book yourself.

I am giving away my ARC of this book, so if you would be interested in reading it, please leave a comment on this blog, and email me at info(NO SPAM) . You'll need to remove the (NO SPAM) to make it work. I'll be giving it away in about a week.


Anonymous said...

Just from reading this review, I can tell that this book would be an interesting read, for both young adult and old adult!

I would enjoy having this book, in my home library, for those school aged children, that enjoy reading books, with other cultures featured.

Every bit of knowledge, is a good bit of knowledge.


gautami tripathy said...

One of closest friends lived in Zimbabwe for three years. She has fond memories of it.

Please count me in for the giveaway.