Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Cry, The Beloved Country -- Alan Paton ---- 4 STARS

While taking education classes at the prestigious University of Virginia (ok ok, northern Virginia campus), I met an awesome guy from Kenya. Besides sharing our thoughts and views on all aspects of education, we also recommended books for each other... this was one of his recommendations.

I feel proud reviewing a book that is what most would dub -- literature. Rather than what others might call airport trash, like much of the other books I read. Anyway, this book is about apartheid South Africa. It was written over 50 years ago, so it lacks the every single line of every single page is supposed to keep you interested like current books. Nonetheless, it was a wonderful story. Brilliantly written, it describes both the rural settings and city slums with such care and detail that your mind can't help but wander off dreaming of this beautiful place.

The story is told in 3 parts and it's done very well. Subtly, the author questions why whites separate the blacks as they do and what policies are created to assure their dominance. All of these questions are alluded to though the story, which is only about a few individuals.

I rated this book 4 stars, though if you are don't care for history or sociology it may be less interesting to you. I found it both a wonderful story about people and their actions and also a superb narrative describing life in South Africa pre-Mandela. The charecters are so richly developed that you can't help but feel their pain... and yes, this is not the most cheery book. But, like many good stories an ending with hope for the future exists.

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