A compelling coming of age story with an unlikely and utterly memorable heroine, Child of the River is a timeless tale of heartbreak and triumph set in South Africa at the dawn of apartheid. Persomi is young, white, and poor, born the middle child of illiterate sharecroppers on the prosperous Fourie farm in the South African Bushveld. Persomi’s world is extraordinarily small. She has never been to the local village and spends her days absorbed in the rhythms of the natural world around her, escaping the brutality and squalor of her family home through the newspapers and books passed down to her from the main house and through her walks in the nearby mountains. Persomi’s close relationship with her older brother Gerbrand and her fragile friendship with Boelie Fourie–heir to the Fourie farm and fortune–are her lifeline and her only connection to the outside world. When Gerbrand leaves the farm to fight on the side of the Anglos in WWII and Boelie joins an underground network of Boer nationalists, Persomi’s isolated world is blown wide open. But as her very small world falls apart, bigger dreams become open to her–dreams of an education, a profession, a native country that values justice and equality, and of love. As Persomi navigates the changing world around her–the tragedies of war and the devastating racial strife of her homeland–she finally discovers who she truly is, where she belongs, and why her life–and every life–matters.
As a book reviewer in The Fiction Guild’s Elite Reader program, I received a box full of awesome books to read and share with all of you. Child of the River by Irma Joubert was one of those books. I had heard of Irma Joubert back in September of 2015, when I had the opportunity to read The Girl from the Train (see The Girl From the Train review HERE).
Because I have more books than I have days to read them right now, my mother, Gloria graciously agreed to read and review this one for me. I probably should have given my mother Irma Joubert’s previous book to read first, but I didn’t realize they were written in the same time period.
Here’s what Gloria said about this book:
“This is a very intense read. The author writes in Afrikaans. Child of the River is the second book written by Irma Joubert that has been translated into English. The first was The Girl from the Train that I have not read. Both of her books are written in the same time period and the location of South Africa. You learn a lot of history when you read this book such as what was going on in Europe during WWII, history during the mid-1950 in South Africa with apartheid and segregation.
This is a story about Persomis, the daughter of a sharecropper who comes from a dysfunctional home life. Her father is a drunk and beats his wife and children. Social workers step in and takes the younger siblings and send Persomis to a boarding school where her brother Gerbrand is attending. She works hard, made excellent grades and was allowed to attend the university where she earns a law degree.
Irma Joubert weaves three story lines so well. First was Persomi growing up living dirt poor on the Fourie’s farm. Second, the apartheid laws and how they were applied to the families, and third, the love story between Persomi and Boelie.
This is a well-written and very inspiring story. I loved the character Persomis especially her passion as she fought for the rights of minorities and the romance between Persomis and Boelie.”
About the author: Irma Joubert was a history teacher for 35 years. This experience has stood in good stead re-when it comes to doing research for re uitgebreide historical novels. She writes with empathy and a deep insight JSON personal relationships. She and her husband live in Bloemfontein.
Books by Irma Joubert – 2011 Winding road, Avon 2011 Homecoming – stories about love, Table Mountain in 2010 Persomi, child brackish rant, Table Mountain in 2009 Beyond Pontenilo, Avon 2009 Safe Harbor, Lapa 2007 Between stations, Lapa 2006 Prohibited ford, Lapa 2006 Far beckons the Southern Cross, Lapa Awards In 2010 Beyond Pontenilo won the ATKV Prize for Romance Novels. Translations Dutch: Far beckons the Southern Cross, between stations and Pérsomi, child of the barren ridge.
I received a paperback copy of this book without cost from the publisher through The Fiction Guild, a Thomas Nelson/Zondervan Elite Reader book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own.