Anna watches as her older brother upsets the family by involving himself in illegal activities to escape from the poverty of his home life in South Africa.
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Grade 4-6-- Anna Jantjies is the bright and hopeful young narrator of this first-person family story. A member of a mixed-race or (in South African usage) "colored" squatter community in that bleak, sandy stretch of land outside of Cape Town known as the Cape Flats, she tells of the grinding poverty of her life: the cold, damp winters; the lack of space and privacy; the shortage of money. The girl has never attended school; instead, she cares for her baby sister while her parents work. When her adored older stepbrother, David, rescues a three-legged dog from drowning and tries to keep it, the simmering conflict between him and his alcoholic stepfather erupts. David leaves home and turns to illegal activities. Anna tries desperately to hold onto her relationships with both David and her father, and to act as a peacemaker. Her story, told in a conversational style, has some of the meandering quality of everyday life rather than the tight construction of a novel. Unfortunately her voice as narrator is not always consistent with that of a young girl, especially an unschooled one. The squatter camp setting is well integrated into the story, but the issue of language (the status of English-speakers versus Afrikaans-speakers), which Case addresses in an introduction, does not emerge clearly. The sociological interest is stronger than either plot or character development in this book originally published in South Africa. --Susan Giffard, Englewood Public Library, NJ
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From South Africa, a moving evocation of the life of the ``colored'' under apartheid, based on the childhood of the author's mother. Narrator Anna lives in ``the Kamp''--``a vast stretch of undeveloped land on which people set up makeshift homes from scraps of wood and iron.'' She's old enough for school but must stay home to take care of her baby sister while Mamsie works long hours for her ``madam.'' Dadda, an excellent gardener, is regarded with affection by his wife and daughters despite his violent alcoholic rages, but he's bitterly at odds with his stepson David, whose behavior he hopes to improve with frequent beatings. David is adored by his half-sister and also finds solace with a dog he has rescued from drowning; impelled by the family's grinding poverty and goaded by Dadda's abuse, he also has a secret life of petty thievery and marijuana peddling, which eventually brings social services into play and results in a special boarding school (its nature is not clear) for David, a move to better housing for the family, and school for Anna. Case succeeds admirably in her attempt ``to share a culture with those who do not know about it'': her sharply drawn characters and story of a warmhearted boy responding to his troubles with care for his dog as well as with rebellion are poignantly believable, the setting fully realized. Illustrations not seen. (Fiction. 8-12) -- Copyright ©1991, Kirkus Associates, LP. All rights reserved.
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Book Description Dutton Juvenile, 1991. Hardcover. Book Condition: New. book. Bookseller Inventory # M0525673504
Book Description Dutton Juvenile, 1991. Hardcover. Book Condition: New. First US. Bookseller Inventory # DADAX0525673504