Tuesday, 26 August 2014

Book 12 of 2014: The Other Side of Truth by Beverley Naidoo

Way back in March the end of my course was slowly swimming into view as I tackled the final four books of the course. The Other Side of Truth was the next to arrive after Mortal Engines so I stuck it on my bedside table and moved straight onto it when I was finished with the Philip Reeve book.

The Other Side of Truth by Beverley Naidoo is a story of Sade, a young Nigerian girl, who is forced to flee the country with her brother when her mother is killed due to the articles written by Sade's father. Abandoned in Britain Sade and Femi find themselves in foster care and not knowing what they should say or do as they are often treated with suspicion due to their status as refugees.

I really loved this book. I read it in about two days and putting it down to go to sleep or to work was a real wrench. I so easily could've just read it all in one sitting.

There were a few places where I so easily could've cried. Naidoo did a fantastic job of writing the characters so that you just couldn't help but sympathise with them. I think everyone's probably been in that situation as a young teenager where you didn't quite feel like you fitted in for some reason, so you can easily relate to Sade on one level, but then Sade is in a position which I suspect (and hope) many readers will never be in so it makes you look at the subject of illegal immigrants/refugees totally differently. And it's a book written for children which means it's all dealt with in a way which younger readers can understand.

The course materials mention a sequel which deals with Sade's younger brother, Femi. I would really like to read that as in this book he's really shaken up by events and basically closes himself off. You get the sense that he's got all this anger and hurt bottled up within himself and sooner or later it's going to have to come out. I can't help but think of all the disastrous ways that this could happen and so I'm also kind of hesitant to read the sequel because Sade and Femi have already been through so much that I don't want any more bad things to happen to them.

I found this book really interesting to study. There were so many things that I was able to say about this book that I decided to use it as one of the books I wrote about in my essay. Normally when I really enjoy a book I don't like to write about it in case it changes my enjoyment level, but there was so much that I took away from it that I didn't worry about it this time.

I have to admit that I was surprised to learn that Beverley Naidoo is a white South African. The book felt really personal so I was expecting her to be Nigerian herself, perhaps having experienced some of the things that Sade went through. In the course of my study I read an essay written by Naidoo where she explained where the story came from, how she went about writing it as well as all the research that she did. The effects of the research can be felt all the way through the story because she really is telling the story of so many of those people that she interviewed.

I'd definitely recommend picking up a copy of this, even if you're not needing to study it. It's a really quick read and it'll open your eyes to just one of the reasons why people are forced to seek asylum; a perspective that we don't often see, particularly in children's literature.

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