First Impression Friday- Hum If You Know the Words

First Impression Friday is hosted by J.W. Martin.

First Impression Friday will be a meme where you talk about a book that you JUST STARTED! Maybe you’re only a chapter or two in, maybe a little farther.

Based on this sampling of your current read, give a few impressions and predict what you’ll think by the end.

Hum If You Know the Words by Bianca Marais

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Life under Apartheid has created a secure future for Robin Conrad, a nine-year-old white girl living with her parents in 1970s Johannesburg. In the same nation but worlds apart, Beauty Mbali, a Xhosa woman in a rural village in the Bantu homeland of the Transkei, struggles to raise her children alone after her husband’s death. Both lives have been built upon the division of race, and their meeting should never have occurred . . . until the Soweto Uprising, in which a protest by black students ignites racial conflict, alters the fault lines on which their society is built, and shatters their worlds when Robin’s parents are left dead and Beauty’s daughter goes missing.

After Robin is sent to live with her loving but irresponsible aunt, Beauty is hired to care for Robin while continuing the search for her daughter. In Beauty, Robin finds the security and family that she craves, and the two forge an inextricable bond through their deep personal losses. But Robin knows that if Beauty finds her daughter, Robin could lose her new caretaker forever, so she makes a desperate decision with devastating consequences. Her quest to make amends and find redemption is a journey of self-discovery in which she learns the harsh truths of the society that once promised her protection.

Told through Beauty and Robin’s alternating perspectives, the interwoven narratives create a rich and complex tapestry of the emotions and tensions at the heart of Apartheid-era South Africa. Hum if You Don’t Know the Words is a beautifully rendered look at loss, racism, and the creation of family.

I have only read the first few chapters of Hum If You Don’t Know the Words and I can already tell that this book is going to crush me- even though not a lot has happened so far. Dual perspectives can be hit or miss, but I already find myself connecting with both narrators. I am curious to see how the come together.

Right away I was struck by how beautifully written this book is. I get the feeling that Bianca Marais will become a new favourite author. I am so pleased that I already own her sophomore novel, If You Want to Make God Laugh.

Hum If You Don’t Know the Words is over 400 pages and I plan to savor each and every one. I have prepared myself for this emotional journey.

What is also really exciting is that I am reading this as part of a buddy read on Instagram and the author herself is going to join us in one of the discussion. I love when authors connect with the community in that way!


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