No Turning Back: A Novel of South Africa

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9780060275051: No Turning Back: A Novel of South Africa

Escaping from his violent step-father, 12-year-old Sipho heads for Johannesburg, where he has heard that gangs of children live on the streets. Surviving hunger and bitter-cold winter nights is hard--but learning who to trust in the "new" South Africa proves even more difficult.

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About the Author:

Beverley Naidoo grew up in South Africa under apartheid. She says: "As a white child I didn't question the terrible injustices until I was a student. I decided then that unless I joined the resistance, I was part of the problem." Beverley Naidoo was detained without trial when she was twenty-one and later went into exile in Britain, where she has since lived.

Her first children's book, Journey to Jo'burg, was banned in South Africa until 1991, but it was an eye-opener for thousands of readers worldwide. Her characters in Chain of Fire, No Turning Back, and Out of Bounds face extraordinary challenges in a society she describes as "more dangerous than any fantasy." She has won many awards for her writing, including the Carnegie Medal, the Jane Addams Book Award, and the American Library Association Best Book for Young Adults for The Other Side of Truth, about two refugee children smuggled to London who are also featured in Web of Lies.

From School Library Journal:

Grade 4-8. Sipho's idyllic country life ends when his nurturing grandmother dies and he returns to his mother's shack. Shocked to discover he now has a stepfather who is brutal and abusive, Sipho lasts for six months before running away to the mean streets of Johannesburg. He is taken in by a rather tame gang and taught the ropes of survival by the good-natured Jabu. Money for food and arcade games is almost painlessly earned by helping to carry groceries. Joseph, Jabu's opposite, tries to steer Sipho to ruin by offering him iglue (glue) to sniff. After a traumatic episode with a vigilante group, he is rescued from the harsh streets by a white shop owner who grudgingly gives him shelter in response to the pleas of his daughter. Unfortunately, the man's malevolent son chases the boy away. Sipho finds Jabu and salvation at a shelter that seems too good to be true. An understanding nun takes him home to visit his mother and new baby sister. With the stepfather conveniently offstage (looking for a job), it appears that all will be well for this family. Naidoo's latest offering will disappoint those expecting a convincing look at the street life of homeless South African children. Her palette seems limited to black and white characterizations (steadfast Jabu, glue-sniffing Joseph, drunken stepfather, etc.). Changes are driven by plot and are not true to character. Jabu seems content with his street life?so why would he suddenly decide to sign on at the shelter? For a more convincing look at the strife and turmoil in South Africa, choose Hazel Rochman's Somehow Tenderness Survives (HarperCollins, 1988).?Marilyn Payne Phillips, University City Public Library, MO
Copyright 1997 Reed Business Information, Inc.

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